01.31.12

Notorious Fantasist / Lineman Reclaims The Spotlight. Sort Of.

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 10:38 pm by

The lunacy of Signing Day took a decided turn for the absurd in February of 2008 when Fernley, NV OL Kevin Hart made quite a show of his dramatic choice to attend Cal-Berkeley over the University of Oregon.  Trouble is, Hart wasn’t being recruited by either institution of higher learning. Fast forward to the present day, and Hart — currently a sophomore at Feather River Community College, has taken to Facebook to update his adoring fans on future football plans.  From Lost Lettermen :

Hart responded to a post on his page on January 15 by commenting that his choices are between Division II schools Concordia University in St. Paul, MN, and Missouri Western in Saint Joseph, MO.

On January 4, Hart posted the following on his Facebook page: “Really thought I was close to making decision but after tonight things are wide open again, crazy!! Going on to St Paul on the 14th then Missouri Western on the 21st”

And when a friend commented that he thought Hart was set on a trip to St. Paul, Hart responded by saying he was until Missouri Western called in early January and “started talking offer and a visit so it’s back open u know how much I like Western.”

Yes, we know you like Western, Kevin, because you actually “liked” the school’s athletic page on Facebook. So it’s not a surprise that Hart is enjoying the recruitment process that he apparently never had four years ago and making it public through social media.

Rick Adelman : I Didn’t Leave Les Alexander Hanging By The Telephone

Posted in Basketball at 9:55 pm by

T-Wolves head coach Rick Adelman made his first appearance in Houston last since parting ways with the Rockets after the 2010-2011 season, and took pains to correct claims in the Houston Chronicle that he failed to return phone calls from owner Les Alexander. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Kent Youngblood ;

“You know, I’m still waiting for that phone call he said he made to me every year,” Adelman said. “I never got one, unless he was calling another Rick. I didn’t think anything of it until I saw all this stuff about how I never listened to him. It was kind of a joke.”

He wasn’t done. “[Alexander] said he used to call me three or four times a year. It never happened. … I chose not to accept the extension they offered me. I always thought the operation was Daryl [Morey, Rockets GM] and Les talking and then when I met with Les it was Daryl, Les and I. I’m not real smart, but I’m going to listen to my boss. That kind of turned me the wrong way.”

That said, Adelman took pains to say how much he enjoyed his four years with the Rockets.

“It was a great place to work, and I had a lot of fun,” he said. “Hopefully we can recreate it in Minnesota, that same atmosphere.”

The Big Lead – Allowing Cowherd To Take Full Ownership Of His Suckiness

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 4:37 pm by

Of his ill-advised attempt to force a shutdown of The Big Lead in  2007,  a tearful Colin Cowherd tells TBL’s Jason MacIntyre, “ It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done to another person. It was a horrible thing to do … it ate me up.”  And with that Oprah moment out of the way, we’re treated to a mostly fluffy portrait of the flaming douchebag highly motivated broadcaster.  Though Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch offers qualified praise for McIntyre’s effort (“the conceit of staring down the person who took down your fledgling web site is an interesting dynamic to explore,”), he’s not entirely satisfied with the results.

First, I’m not a fan of single source profiles, which this basically was, and the fact that an ESPN PR rep shadowed the writer during the entire interview experience would have been a non-starter for me. (I’ll use this moment to note that of all the sports television networks I deal with, ESPN is the only one that consistency insists on its PR staff sitting in on interviews (phone or otherwise) with talent and executives. You can judge for yourself whether that’s sound handling, paranoia, or both. Sometimes I’ve played ball with them and other times I’ve contacted subjects independent of the Ministry of Magic. I will say that ESPN PR staffers have never interfered during an interview I’ve conducted, and that their conduct when they have sat in has been professional. But a third party, and a PR person at that, shadowing an interviewer shapes the dynamic of a profile, and makes you question things as the reader.)

I don’t know how the editorial process went down here but I wish McIntyre, if he had not, ran a draft by an experienced editor or a trusted profile writer who would have prompted a discussion about what’s not in here, from an attempt to speak with Cowherd’s ex-wife to the reaction of those he’s insulted on the radio to a firm discussion with his bosses.

Though Cowherd was allowed to call his assault on The Big Lead, “the worst thing I’ve ever done”, was it really any worse than this act of plagiarism? Or how does it compare to his contrition fading fast enough to have bragged to Deitsch in 2008, that sports bloggers were begging him to be knocked offline?  Where does Cowherd’s commentary following the shooting death of Sean Taylor fit into the pretty picture of a workaholic radio host who claims a TV network told him Will Arnett was “too m” to play him in a sitcom?

01.30.12

Lansing’s MWL Franchise Is Going (Lug)Nuts For Indie Beer

Posted in Baseball, Beer at 8:46 pm by

(the entry below was a cheap excuse to show this video.  Thought I could’ve opted for this, instead)

The Lansing Lugnuts’ slogan for their 2012 Midwest League season could very well be, “Come For The Creepy Logo That Suggests A Sex Act, Stay For The Boutique Beer”, as MLive’s Larry Hook reports the Class A ballclub will debut a Craft Beer Garden next spring (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

“It’s basically like a lot of your little microbrews that are around town,” Lugnuts Assistant GM Nick Grueser said. “They’re not the big Budweisers of the world that are mass producing all over the place.”

He said certain specifications are required of craft beer manufacturers.

“They have to sell less than two million barrels of beer a year,” Grueser explained. “They have to be independent; they can’t have more than 25 percent controlled by a larger beer company. And they have to be a traditional beer, like they have to be an ale or a lager.”

Grueser said it is unknown at this point what brands of beers will be available in the beer garden.

“We’ve working with our beer partner, Dan Henry Distributing, on finding a selection of beers,” Grueser said. “We’re going to have about eight different, rotating beers that are craft-beer options for people.”

 

When It Comes To The Browns Beat, Randy Lerner Remains Halfway Relevant

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism, twitter twatter at 5:52 pm by

Imagine, if you will, if a writer covering the New York Mets took to Twitter to describe Fred Wilpon as “a pathetic figure”.  Or if someone on the Knicks beat called James Dolan, “the most irrelevant cable TV heir/guitarist in the world”  The reaction would be shrugs all around, right?  Not so in Cleveland, OH, where the Plain Dealer has removed Tony Grossi from Browns coverage after the veteran scribe’s unflattering Tweet about team owner Randy Lerner (above), “went unintentionally viral,” as the paper’s “reader representative”, Ted Diadun explains.

Grossi had typed a message, which he termed “a smart-(aleck) remark to a colleague,” that called Browns owner Randy Lerner “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.”

But instead of sending a text message only to its intended recipient, he hit the wrong button and sent it out to his 15,000-plus Twitter followers.

Grossi said he discovered to his horror what had happened within about 60 seconds, and immediately retracted the Tweet, but the damage had been done. When he realized the following morning that the Tweet had been copied and re-Tweeted around the football world, he called Fladung to give him the bad news.

An apology — to Lerner, the Browns and Grossi’s Twitter followers — was quick in coming. Editors also posted an apology on cleveland.com and Publisher Terrance C.Z. Egger sent Lerner and the Browns a letter of apology.

But Managing Editor Thom Fladung was still left with a problem: His Browns reporter had revealed to the world his utter disdain for the owner of the team he was covering. How would the paper’s readers be able to have faith in the objectivity in his reports following that?

“In another area, it would be an obvious call,” said Fladung. “What if the reporter covering City Hall called the mayor pathetic and irrelevant? What if a reporter in the Columbus bureau said that about the governor? They would be removed from the beat immediately. It’s the same with this situation.”

Nick Stevens Presides Over The Biggest Masshole Convention You’ll See…

Posted in Gridiron, Mob Behavior at 3:35 pm by

….unless DYS’ reunion tour hits some really big venues New England wins next Sunday, in which case they’ll do it all over again. Typically fine work from the Townie News correspondent, though it possibly would’ve been more entertaining had Stevens aka Fitzy visited a Giants Pep Rally instead. Dressed in Pats regalia, of course.

Tony Kornheiser Would Love To Help The Occupy Movement, But He’s Simply Too Rich

Posted in politics, Sports TV at 11:30 am by

Occupy Washington DC’s protests outside of Saturday night’s Alfafa Dinner  included the glitter-bombing of Sen. Joe Lieberman, a smattering of female nudity and the obligatory playing of Rage Against The Machine.  The event also featured a cordial confrontation between activists and ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser (above), who reportedly offered the following excuse for not taking up the fight ; “I’m with you in solidarity, but I’m a rich guy and I had fun.”  With such a sophisticated take on civil disobedience, ’tis a shame Tony couldn’t have been on the scene in Tienanmen Square, Selma or  Gdansk.

01.29.12

CSTB’s Greatest (?) Hits : (Regurgitating) Pro Bowl Chili

Posted in Food, Gridiron, Internal Affairs at 3:59 pm by

(Baltimore’s Ray Lewis shows a young fan just one of the places on the human body where you’d really like to avoid being stabbed)

(EDITOR’S NOTE : the following was first posted on February 8, 2004. Since our archives from year one are on the fritz, you’ll just have to take my word for it -GC).

Excuse me for having to spell this one out for our European readers. Pro Bowl Sunday is a BIG event for Americans. All over the country, families come together for Pro Bowl Parties. Advertisers pay hundreds of dollars to televise commercials featuring their newest products. Each year on Pro Bowl Sunday, battered womens’ shelters report the number of victims admitted to their care decreases by two percent, testament to the calming nature of the contest . If the NBA All-Star Game is, in the words of Michael Wilbon, Black Thanksgiving, then the Pro Bowl is sort of like Yom Kippur for Gambling Degenerates & Football Obsessives of All Races.

In this household, the Pro Bowl’s importance is matched only by that of the NHL Skills Competition (skate-sharpening, carrying Eric Lindros off the ice) and the entire NASCAR calendar. And with that in mind, here is CSTB’s Award Winning Pro Bowl Chili Recipe :

Ingredients :
750 g of Sainsbury Lean Minced Beef

1 jar of Uncle Ben’s Hot Chili
simmer the minced beef in a wok or non-combustible container until brown.

drain the fat in a colander.

remove half the beef and serve to CSTB’s Proofreader (allow some 20 minutes for cooling or you’ll be very very sorry)

put the other half of the beef back in the wok, add the contents of the Uncle Ben’s jar.

go watch NFL Countdown for 30 minutes

serve over a bed of white rice (if you don’t have any white rice, you can always try to cut the taste by swallowing without chewing)

Serves 1 – possibly two if you can get anyone to come over to your house for the Pro Bowl.

Fake It Till You Make It : Jayson Williams’ Popularity Rebound

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 1:42 pm by

Former Nets / St. Johns standout Jayson Williams, whose post-playing career has included charges not limited to manslaughter, cover-up of said killing and numerous scrapes with the law, is currently serving a one-year DUI sentence at New York’s Riker’s Island after completing an 18-month stretch in relation to the 2002 shooting of limousine driver Costas Christofi. One of Williams’ fellow inmates, Christopher Hughes, tells the NY Post’s Page 6 that Williams, “is beloved by all behind bars with him, from crackheads to gangbangers.”   Michael Alig was presumably unavailable for comment.

“People treat him like a star,” said Hughes, who was released from Rikers last week after serving time for reckless assault. “Every single person shakes his hand. He is like Moses, the Moses of Rikers.”

“Jayson would sign people’s Bibles,” Hughes told us. “I would ask him why, and he’d say, ‘Fake it till you make it.’ I thought he was saying, ‘If I can get them in the door through this signature, then at least I got them in the room to see Christ.’ ”

Williams worked as a suicide-prevention assistant for a week on the midnight shift, to help inmates who were contemplating killing themselves, Hughes told us.

Jayson, also a former Philadelphia 76er, who receives “tons” of mail and spends four hours a day writing back, is also penning a second book, “Humbled,” which includes the bombshell that he was sexually abused as a child.

“It’s raw,” said Hughes, who read excerpts while in prison.

01.28.12

With His Fox Soccer Cameos, Piers Morgan Has Accomplished The Near-Impossible..

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 9:07 pm by

(image culled from The Denim Kit)

…in that he’s somehow managed to make Eric Wynalda come off like a thoughtful commentator.   Next Sunday morning, Fox’s US terrestrial network will air a live broadcast the Chelsea v Manchester United match prior to their Super Bowl pregame coverage. Let’s hope that unlike last weekend’s transmission of Manchester United at Arsenal, unabashed Gooner Morgan is kept off far away from an analyst microphone, lest he deliver the sort of performance described below by When Saturday Comes’ Ian Plenderneith ;

Arsene Wenger’s substitution of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he declared, was the worst substitution he had ever seen. Get that! The teenager had just set up a goal and then off he went for Andrei Arshavin, who failed to track back when Valencia went on a run that set up United’s winner. Again, Morgan table-thumpingly declared it was all Wenger’s fault, then loudly proclaimed: “I’ve had enough of this!”

Rob Stone and Wynalda looked at him, slightly worried. Would Morgan stab himself in the chest as a gesture of protest? No such luck. Rip up his season ticket live on US television? That might have been difficult, given that season tickets at the Emirates are small plastic cards, and a cynic might doubt whether Morgan actually owns one anyway. Make a run for the board? Wealthy, overbearing, clueless about football and with the requisite plummy accent, he’d be the perfect fit, but no announcement was made. Stop supporting Arsenal and change his allegiance to the New York Giants? That might have been in the Fox script, but at that point the football coverage came to a close. We are yet to find out what action Piers is preparing to take now that he’s had it up to HERE with Arsène Wenger.

Of course no one is fooling themselves that this was anything besides theatre, and that Morgan was briefed beforehand to step up and look like the passionate homer. Gloat if you win, get mad if you lose and don’t forget to find a hero or a scapegoat depending on the scenario. It is only a shame (though hardly a surprise) that the opportunity was missed to present football to a wider US public in an intelligent and more balanced fashion.

Madden : Prince Signing Is Ilitch’s Ill-Advised Move, Not Dombrowski’s

Posted in Baseball at 8:38 pm by

After weeks of speculation free agent 1B Prince Fielder had few other options besides the Washington Nationals, Detroit signed the former Milwaukee Brewer to a 9-year, $124 million pact early this week, a scenario the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden describes thusly ; “just when it looked as if the Avenging Agent had finally overplayed his hand and left himself without the ‘One Dumb Owner’ to fork over an Albert Pujols-like contract, in the Tigers’ Mike Ilitch, Boras managed to pluck an old familiar one out of his hat.”  Even worse, Madden suggests GM Dave Dombrowski never would’ve signed off on the deal.  Even Donnie Walsh doesn’t know how Dombrowski can work under such conditions!

With the qually girthy and immobile Miguel Cabrera slated to move to third base (where he hasn’t played since 2007) to make room for Fielder (whose 15 errors were the most of any first baseman in baseball last year) the Tiger infield — which also includes range-challenged Jhonny Peralta at short — has the potential to be one of the most porous in the history of baseball, offsetting the Tigers’ biggest strength, their pitching.

Then there’s the matter of the leadoff spot where Austin Jackson struck out 181 times last year, dropped 44 points off his batting average from the year before and had an on-base percentage of just .317.

You could make the case that, even with the Martinez injury, a leadoff hitter was a bigger need for the Tigers, who still lack an adequate table-setter for their two middle-of-the-order thumpers.

In the meantime, in Fielder, Cabrera and Martinez, the Tigers now have $177 million allocated to first basemen/designated hitters over the next three years. Anyone who knows Dave Dombrowski, knows he would never construct a team like that.

This wasn’t the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs or Phillies wreaking havoc on the salary structure for the small- and middle-market clubs, this was one of their own, and there was nothing Selig or his labor chief, Rob Manfred, could have done to prevent Boras from bamboozling another owner into a ridiculous contract.

Tommorow, A’s Fans Can Spend Quality Time WIth Lewis Wolff..

Posted in Baseball at 2:15 pm by

…and perhaps ask him in what possible universe could Manny Ramirez be considered a good clubhouse influence.  That’s just one of the topics you can address with Oakland’s managing general partner at Sunday’s Fan Fest, as Wolff tells the SF Chronicle’s John Shea, “”I thought it might be a good opportunity to have a little fun and at the same time have some one-on-one with a random selection of fans who would be interested in talking to me…I may be sitting there by myself.”

In Sunday’s link-with-Lew sessions, it seems everything is on the table – unless, of course, Selig calls with a gag order. “I have talked to quite a few people who’ve written me or called me,” Wolff said. “I like doing it. … I like it when someone actually listens to me.”

In an interview with The Chronicle, Wolff gave his take on why the A’s are rebuilding and trading so many quality pitchers, citing the improbability of contending in a division with two teams’ payrolls topping $100 million and a desire to be competitive if and when the A’s move into a new park.

“Each move has been very carefully thought through,” said Wolff, adding the A’s farm system is vastly improved and the draft budget has been increased. “We’re also looking to say, ‘Gee, we’ll hopefully get a new venue in three or four years, and who’s going to be ready for that?’ I think we’ll have a better team (in 2012) or equal to last year’s, which is wonderful. They’ll be younger and learning a lot.”

After restocking with prospects, the A’s began rounding out their roster with experienced players, including Bartolo Colon and Jonny Gomes.

Might be one more. Manny, anyone?

I would have no problems with that on his talent and his ability,” Wolff said of Ramirez, who’s flirting with a possible comeback. “His last experience in Tampa Bay, what I’m hearing, he was a good clubhouse guy.”

01.27.12

Romenesko’s Klein On Witt’s Less-Than-Courageous “Decision”

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 8:49 pm by

Last Autumn, it was widely reported that Yale QB Patrick Witt had chosen to skip a Rhodes scholarship finalist interview in favor of leading the Bulldogs into battle for the annual season-ending rivalry contest against Harvard.  Witt’s decision was portrayed as an act of selflessness, though it’s since been reported his failure to interview for the scholarship was actually a matter of the Rhodes Trust learning of sexual assault allegations against him. In November, Witt described his quandry as “ an unfortunate set of circumstances in terms of timing,” a version of events Romenesko.com’s Alex Klein claims Yale’s school paper knew was a lie.  “In choosing to ignore this story,” argues Klein,  “The Yale News not only perpetuated the deceptive, now-shredded narrative of Pat’s ‘heroic choice.’ The paper and its editor are also complicit in Yale’s culture of secrecy surrounding sexual assault.”

We know few details regarding the sexual assault claim itself. But even in the weeks before the Game, when Yale knew about the charge, the university continued to push the “heroic choice” story on the mainstream media, which gobbled it up all too eagerly. This is disappointing, but not surprising. The Yale administration has persistently stifled the reality of sexual assault on campus: a real and serious problem that prompted last year’s Title IX complaint against the university, alleging a “hostile sexual climate.” But responsibility for the culture of silence does not end at the administration’s door — nor at Patrick Witt’s. I have learned in the past few hours that the editors of the Yale Daily News, the nation’s oldest college daily and a bastion of college journalism, knew about the sexual assault charge as early as November.

As current Science and Technology editor Eli Markham told me, the News’ editor-in-chief, Max de la Bruyere, decided to sit on the story in mid-November. “It’s more complicated than that,” he told a leader on last year’s editorial board, who asked to remain anonymous. Multiple current and past members of the newspaper’s managing board, all deeply involved in the day-to-day work of the paper, have confirmed that the News has had the story for over two months. In fact, the Times story that broke last night featured reporting from last year’s editor-in-chief, Vivian Yee. She too approached the paper with a tip-off, but its editors chose not to follow the story. The paper even knew that the sexual assault claim had lost Pat an offer to join the Boston Consulting Group after graduation. Even then, they wrote nothing. For reasons personal, social, or political — who can ever tell on a college campus? — the News’ management chose to ignore the bombshell, protecting Pat’s reputation.

Avery Johnson Might Not Have Asked For Help In Counseling Kris Humphries…

Posted in Basketball, Hip Hop, History's Great Hook-Ups at 5:20 pm by

…but he’s getting plenty of it, just the same. Snoop’s advice is offensive and wrong on many levels.  On the bright side, he still makes way more sense than Jeremy Kyle.

Rhetoric Aside, Peyton’s Done In Indy

Posted in Gridiron at 4:02 pm by

A day after Jim Irsay called his injured QB, “a politician”, in reponse to Peyton Manning going public with remarks critical of Indy’s recent house-cleaning, owner and (lame duck) player made a public show of a reconciliation that the Indy Star’s Phillip Wilson probably considers a P.R. exercise. “What we haven’t heard from Manning or Irsay or anyone,” writes Wilson, “is that the QB is healthy. We haven’t heard that he’s going to be healthy any time soon.”

Do you really think that nerve is going to regenerate in another month, in time to convince Irsay by March 8 to keep his star QB? You have to doubt that by now. Manning’s first surgery on this neck problem was back in May. He had the fusion in September. I’ve spoken to a spine surgeon who has said the longer that nerve is damaged, it takes that much more time to heal. It’s been eight months, and we’re still counting.

Based on what Manning has said and how he has said it, I have no doubt the guy wants to keep playing. He’s driven. And he has so much belief in himself, he refuses to accept retirement or that he won’t be able to play again some day. It’s part of what has made Manning great, this ability to go above and beyond and achieve what most can’t.

But in about a month Manning and Irsay are going to have to sit down and have their heart-to-heart chat about the future. And if Manning isn’t healthy, Irsay can’t pay that team option, no matter how strong the sentimental attachment or the backlash from Manning’s fans. Pay it, and if he can’t play, the contract does hamstring the Colts for many years to come. Then so many other fans will blame Irsay for making such a foolish decision that cost this team for years to come.

01.26.12

For A Change, Isiah Thomas Isn’t The One Aggressively Campaigning For A Job With James Dolan

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 10:39 pm by

Though he openly admits his plea to replace Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni (“that ‘stache he sports is very foreign-looking. I never trusted the man anyway”) is all-too reminiscent of the CSTB celluloid punching bag, “Eddie”, Knickerblogger’s Robert Silverman tells MSG chieftan James Dolan (above), “unless Cablevision scientists have figured out a way to bring Red Holzman back from the dead, there isn’t a coach alive that would be able to pull this so-called team out of the gutter.” So why not just hire Joe Walsh Silverman and see what happens?

I’ve been watching this Beckettian exercise in repetition and failure that you call a basketball team since the end of the Carter administration, fer chrissakes. Let’s apply a little basic math. If I’ve watched about fifty games a year, minus the few nights that I have some semblance of a social life, for thirty years at 2.5 hours a game, that comes to approximately 3,000 hours of intense study (and I think your so-called offense consisted of dumping the ball into the post and standing around watching King/Ewing/Melo shuck and jive for at least 2,876 of those hours). I don’t know if that’s impressive or sad or frightening or all of the above. I’ll let you be the judge of that. I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty — after so many hours in the belly of the beast, I can tell what’s going to happen in a game. I know when the other team is about to go on a run. I can smell a turnover coming like a fart in a crowded cubicle. I may not be able to diagram a play or run a practice, but my psychic powers will make up for any and all strategic deficiencies.

I can see you’re impressed. But wait, there’s more! If you glance at my resume you’ll note that when I’m not glued to the tube, I have spent many a year writing, directing and acting in stage plays. As such, I’m well-versed in managing a group of whiny, pouting, narcissistic, me-first divas. A group of individuals who, possibly save for their sexual preferences, are not that dissimilar from the rancid, cancerous personas that supposedly make up the majority of NBA rosters. Plus, the same basic ingredients that make for great theater make for great basketball – rhythm, tempo, floor spacing, unselfishness, and possibly having someone in a tiger costume show up in the 2nd act.

Forget The Citi Field Hall Of Lame, Derek Erdman Has Bestowed Upon Keith Hernandez The Most Lasting Tribute Of All

Posted in Baseball at 6:29 pm by

Seriously, EAT MEX’S DUST, JOHNNY FUCKO. Derek Erdman has just introduced the Keith Hernandez Coat Rack, possibly the greatest former athlete-turned-SNY-mouthpiece inspired coat rack of our generation. At a mere $100, you can afford to buy one for each of your homes (unless you’re Fred Wilpon)

Congrats, Captain Fucko – You’re In The (Really) Poor Man’s Hall Of Fame

Posted in Baseball at 2:32 pm by

Thursday morning salutations to longtime CSTB whipping boy Johnny B. Badd, whose day was undoubtedly brightened with the following press release ;

FLUSHING, N.Y., January 26, 2012 – The New York Mets today announced that John Franco, the club’s all-time leader in saves and games pitched, will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame during the Mets Hall of Fame Induction ceremony presented by Citi Sunday, June 3 prior to the 1:10 p.m. game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Franco saved 276 games for the Mets over his 14-year career (1990-2004) with the team, the second-longest in franchise history behind Ed Kranepool’s 18 years of service. The four-time All-Star compiled 424 saves during his career, the fourth-most in major league history and the most by any lefthanded reliever.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be elected to the Mets Hall of Fame,” said Franco, who is currently in his fourth year as a Club Ambassador with the Mets. “I would like to thank Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, Jeff Wilpon, the Hall of Fame Committee, all of my managers and coaches and of course my teammates. My entire family is looking forward to June 3.”

“John set a very high standard during his career both on and off the field,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, who serves as Ex-Officio for the Selection Committee. “It’s great that during our 50th anniversary season we can have John – a true New Yorker in every sense – inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.”

Rick Reed, unavailable for comment.

01.25.12

Reading, PA : Home Of The Zany Baseball Overdose

Posted in Baseball at 8:00 pm by

If you’re thinking all this fantastic event is missing is Fox Bots, keep in mind, “Grammy Award-winning musician and Berks County resident David Cullen will also be performing uncomfortably close to the pitcher’s mound in a protected area as he entertains fans and all-stars in attendance.”

Either Ernie Grunfeld Owns Very Embarrassing Photos Of Ted Leonsis…

Posted in Basketball at 7:20 pm by

(more embarrassing than this, anyway)

…or he’s a dead GM walking.  At least that’s the conclusion we can come to after the 2-15 Wizards canned head coach Flip Saunders Tuesday, with one unidentified agent telling the Washington Post’s Mike Wise that making assistant Randy Wittman the interim coach is a poor band-aid (“Witt is Flip without the accomplishments.”). In calling for Grunfeld’s termination, Wise’s WaPo colleague Jason Reid writes, “excising Saunders from the Wizards’ dysfunctional situation is like arresting a lowly accomplice while permitting the mastermind to go free.”

It’s fine to stay on message about your “plan.” Marketing slogans about “New Traditions” have their place. When teams exhibit little effort, as the Wizards did while going through the motions on the road and dropping to 2-15, the person ultimately in charge actually has to lead.

After Washington’s awful performance the past two seasons, and Grunfeld’s poor judgment while enabling the Wizards’ high-profile knuckleheads through the years, Leonsis needs to initiate an organizational purge. So far, he has ignored the biggest problem.

The Wizards coddle their players, offering excuses for their missteps. Each time the Wizards fire a coach, they validate their players’ repeated acts of ignorance.

Why should Andray Blatche attempt to do better when he plays in an organization that apparently places little value on accountability? How is JaVale McGee expected to learn the right way when, eight days after Saunders took issue with his showboat dunk, the coach is the one taking the blame for this disaster of a season?

Is it any wonder the players had tuned out Saunders? And when Saunders gets fired just 15 days after management declared his job safe, is it any wonder they don’t take anything seriously?

Beltran To Mets Fans : Enough About The Called Third Strike From Wainwright

Posted in Baseball at 1:00 pm by

Given that it was the Mets’ decision to trade Carlos Beltran to San Francisco last summer rather than attempt to resign the veteran outfielder, I’d be pretty surprised to learn there are Amazins’ fans who deeply resent Beltran for hooking up with the Cardinals this winter. But that’s sort of what the New York Daily News’ Andy Martino alludes to in goading a “I’m not thinking about the fans, I’m thinking about myself,” comment from Beltran at last night’s Baseball Assitance Team charity dinner.

“I just want to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs,” he said. “What happened in 2006, you have to turn the page. That’s over. We can’t bring 2006 back to 2012. It has been six years. If they want to continue to think about that moment, then that’s their problem. Like I said, I have turned the page. I have really moved on.”

If his words sounded selfish, it is worth noting Beltran’s generous nature with teammates. From Angel Pagan to Lucas Duda, he provided frequent counseling on psychology and swing mechanics. The fans? Well … it’s complicated.

It was Beltran, after all, who told the Daily News last March that New York baseball fans “act like they own you.” His tenure included disagreements with team brass over knee surgery and his decision to forgo a voluntary visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Both of those controversies earned him fresh criticism from some in the public, and solidified the complexity of his time here.

“Unfortunately, in the past years, there were things that happened,” Beltran said. “Sometimes, as a player, things that happened in the clubhouse, they should stay in the clubhouse. But unfortunately, sometimes in comes out, and you have to address the media.”

While it would be a stretch to claim Beltran was nearly as popular in his Mets tenure as say, Mike Piazza was in his, was his relationship with the fans nearly as fractious as his relationship with WFAN? Judging by the way his comeback efforts were applauded by the (admittedly few) who attended Mets games last season, isn’t this “complication relationship” a bit overstated?

01.24.12

Kick It Out’s Advice To Ferdinand : Accept Terry’s Handshake

Posted in Football, Racism Corner at 11:32 pm by

QPR’s stunning 1-0 defeat of Chelsea last October was marred by allegations the visitors’ John Terry had racially abused the R’s’ Anton Ferdinand. While both clubs are pleading their supporters to be on their best behavior for this Saturday’s FA Cup 4th round tie at Loftus Road, at least one interested observer is urging Ferdinand to make a public show of burying the hatchet (despite one tabloid’s prediction he’ll do no such thing). From The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield ;

Terry intends to offer his hand to his opponent in the pre-match formalities that will inevitably draw the focus on Saturday, though it remains unclear whether Ferdinand will accept it. The QPR defender is expected to speak with the club on Thursday about the issue and will only then decide whether or not to shake hands prior to kick-off.

Lord Ouseley, an FA Councillor and chairman of the anti-racism campaign Kick it Out, has urged Ferdinand to do so. “Here we have the due process taking place, where a player will face the consequences of his actions,” he said. “But there is every reason for players and indeed fans to show civility and respect toward each other and focus on the football. I have nothing against that. A handshake now is part of the reconciliation and honesty that needs to take place.

“It is not about retribution and continued hostility. It is about reconciliation. It is about how to take the heat out of the situation of the two clubs meeting again, and problems with fans’ behaviour as a result of what happened between the players previously. A handshake before the game will not deflect from what went on before and how it will be dealt with.”

Kiner Korrected : Choo Choo Coleman Sets The Record Straight

Posted in Baseball at 6:38 pm by

Former Mets catcher Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman, one of the more celebrated members of the inaugural Amazins’ squad, returned to Flushing this past weekend for a card signing event attended by the New York Times’ George Vescey.  While Coleman’s kept a low profile of late, toiling in a Virginia  Chinese restaurant prior to flying to NYC (his first airplane journey in 35 years, reportedly).  And what’s a trip down memory lane…without challenging Ralph Kiner’s version of legendary events?

Perhaps Coleman heard fans in line reciting famous Choo Choo anecdotes. This one really happened: Charlie Neal, who roomed with Coleman in 1962, was ragging him in spring training of 1963, saying, “I bet you don’t know my name.” To which Coleman replied, “You No. 4.”

Then there is the Ralph Kiner story about interviewing Coleman in 1962, and asking, “What’s your wife’s name, and what’s she like?” Coleman replied, “Her name is Mrs. Coleman — and she likes me, bub.”

On Sunday, Coleman shook his head politely and said it never happened that way. Kiner, on the phone from Florida, softly said it did.

Another part of the legend is that Kiner asked Coleman how he got his nickname and that Coleman said he did not know.

“When I was 8 or 9, I ran around a lot,” Coleman said Sunday. “My friends called me Choo Choo because I was fast.”

(“He could have told me that,” Kiner said, fondly.)

01.23.12

Who Says The NFL Lacks Concussion Awareness?

Posted in Gridiron at 9:25 pm by

Of Kyle Williams’ two fateful turnovers on punt returns in yesterday’s NFC Championship, at least one of ‘em appeared to be the handiwork (knee-work?) of a player strangely unfocused on the crucial stakes involved.  In Monday’s New York Magazine, Benjamin Wallace-Wells considers quotes from various New York Giants and concludes that Williams — the subject of death threats following his monumental gaffes –  was “targeted for extra violence because they knew he had suffered several concussions in the past.”

After the game, reporters crowded around the locker of Jacquian Williams, who’d forced the second fumble, hoping for an angle: Had the Giants noticed something about Kyle Williams’s technique, some weakness in the 49ers punt-return scheme? “Nah,” Williams said. “The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game.”

Devin Thomas, the reserve wide receiver who recovered both of Kyle Williams’s fumbles, was even more explicit. “He’s had a lot of concussions,” Thomas told the Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi. “We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’ … [Giants reserve safety Tyler] Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”

It certainly sounds like the Giants’ special teams players were told about Williams’s history of concussions, and that they went after him because of it. (That this has so far drawn no attention from beat reporters suggests that such planning is commonplace). It’s impossible to know whether Thomas is right — if Williams in fact was concussed or woozy during the game — but he didn’t look himself yesterday: There was the third-quarter punt that skimmed off his knee after he seemed to dawdle, unsure whether to pick it up or let it roll, and at least two punts that he fair-caught though he had plenty of room to run. Sports Illustrated’s Ann Killion also noticed “a fumble on a reverse that he fell on, a strange sideways diving catch on another punt that could have been disaster.” Williams played virtually the whole game at wide receiver and didn’t register a single catch.

Yahoo Scribe Urges The Nation, “Do Not Demonize The Tea Party Goalie (Most Of You Couldn’t Recognize In A Police Line Up)”

Posted in Hockey, politics at 5:10 pm by

(a man likely to be despised and ridiculed by persons of all political persuasions. And on the right, Tim Thomas)

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas declined to attend the defending Stanley Cup Champions’ visit to the White House earlier today, and while last spring’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner isn’t speaking to the press about his absence, it is presumed the avowed Glenn Beck fan would prefer not to be seen yucking it up with the incumbent Commander In Chief. Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski supports the act of defiance, opining, “good on Thomas for using this moment — where a professional sports team participates in what’s both an honor for their accomplishments and a political photo opportunity — to make a political statement of his own.”

It’s the moment when Thomas will no doubt lose a lot of supporters, for sure, when they realize an athlete they celebrate has stark political differences than they have. He’s not the first nor the last athlete to choose not to visit the White House.

It’s a moment in which a professional athlete uses his fame, his influence for something he believes in, and does something that won’t be popular among fans or media. Sean Avery did the same thing: Potentially alienating his teammates by taking a political stand on gay marriage.

If he’s celebrated and Thomas is demonized, what does that say about our real tolerance of free speech? That it’s only free when we agree with it?

(And for the “separation of politics and hockey” crowd — that flies out the window when you agree to be a backdrop to a speech in an election year. Or any year.)

I get the gist of Wyshynsk’s argument, however, a cursory check of obscure search engine Google reveals little if any criticism, let alone “demonization”. Either hockey fans are apolitical, share his views/biases or most likely, are willing to tolerate all sorts of things so long as Thomas performs on the ice.