“The fans come in and they take over the city. They’re ruthless. They’re vulgar. They cause trouble. They talk about your family. Swear at you. Who likes that? When people do that, it just gives you more incentive to beat them. Then when things like [the last game of last season] happen, you celebrate even more. You go to St. Louis — classiest fans in the game. You do well, there’s no vulgarity. You know what? You don’t wish them bad.”
“I got to see a priceless thing driving back to my apartment,” Scott said. “I see all the Boston fans walking around, and I mean they were crying crocodile tears. People were like this, walking side by side.”
Scott wrapped his arm around a reporter’s waist and began to wail to demonstrate.
“It was like someone shot their dog. I rolled down the window and I’m like, ‘Ah, hah, sucks doesn’t it, when someone laughs or makes fun of you when things aren’t going your way.’”
Former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy (above) and Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker have joined a chorus of criticism following the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ refusal to reschedule the state semi-final hoops contest between Robert M. Beren Academy and the Covenant School of Dallas. The former is an Orthodox Jewish day school and TAPPS have conveniently booked the playoff game to take place on a Friday. From the New York Times’ Mary Pilon :
“It is also my understanding that Tapps teams are not allowed to play any sports on Sundays,” Parker wrote. “Which I presume is out of respect for the Christian Sabbath.”
The organization posted a statement on its Web site on Wednesday that said it was adhering to its bylaws, which were written in the late 1970’s, when “the member schools at that time all recognized Sunday as the day of worship.”
Several of Beren Academy’s opponents this season agreed to change the time of their games to avoid conflicts with the Sabbath — including Our Lady of the Hills, the team from Kerrville that Beren Academy defeated in the regional final. Our Lady of the Hills will replace Beren Academy in the state semifinal game.
“I do understand that Beren was able to reschedule two of its earlier playoff games this postseason,” Parker said in the letter. “It is difficult to comprehend why it is not possible at this stage of the playoffs.”
Jeff Van Gundy, the former coach of the Houston Rockets and the Knicks, said he left a phone message with Tapps representatives this week expressing his concern.
“I called because when you’re the head of an association like this, the only thing you should worry about is doing right by the kids,” Van Gundy said in a phone interview Wednesday. “This decision has nothing to do with the kids. I feel like they made a mistake and they don’t have a vice president of common sense who will tell them that this is silly and it’s O.K. to change your mind.”
(Justin Turner, moments before being presented with an invoice for $24.95)
On Monday, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon greeted players arriving at Port St. Lucie with t-shirts bearing Underdog’s “U” logo, clearly proving for once and all that Jeff and father Fred cannot possibly be broke if they’re handing out such glitzy welcoming gifts. To 3B/lame duck David Wright, however, the gesture sets a tone he’s uncomfortable with, as the New York Post’s Mike Puma reports.
“I don’t really like using the whole Underdog thing,” Wrightsaid. “I don’t like really playing that card, but I think it’s a way to remind everybody in here that the outside expectations aren’t the expectations we have for ourselves.
“But we shouldn’t view ourselves as [underdogs]. We’ll let everybody else view ourselves as that because we kind of know what we’re capable of.”
One Met, who did not want his name used, said he didn’t like the Underdog idea because it gives the team a built-in excuse if it plays poorly. Others are less bothered by Underdog.
“I don’t know how well it’s going to catch on, but at the same time it’s something that why not?” Jason Bay said. “It’s just something to rally around, something to banter about. The T-shirt is not lying. It’s telling the truth.”
Former Indians power-hitter extraordinaire Albert “Don’t Call Me Joey” Belle made a surprise appearance at Cleveland’s Goodyear, AZ spring training camp earlier today, his first contact with the Tribe since leaving the club in 1996 for the White Sox. “I wanted to see the guys. I wanted to rehash some old memories,” Belle told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Paul Hoynes, and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a crying shame Fernando Vina and Hannah Storm couldn’t have been on hand for the reunion.
“When I got hurt in 2000 and couldn’t play in 2001, I was devastated,” said Belle. “I didn’t watch. I didn’t watch any highlights of baseball until Game 7 when the D-Backs won the World Series. I keep up with it now and watch a few games.”
“I’m a stay-at-home Dad,” continued Belle. “I’m Mr. Mom and I golf a lot. I’ll tell you facing David Cone or Roger Clemens was easy compared to being a dad. It seems like all kids get tired and cranky at the same time.”
Not surprisingly, his daughters can swing the bat.
“My wife bought them a little t-ball set,” said Belle. “They love to go hit t-ball. I’d like them to play golf or tennis, but they’d rather hit the t-ball.”
Belle didn’t think there was a problem between the Indians and him.
“I thought the fences were already mended,” said Belle. “That was a long time ago. That’s the thing about free agency. It can create some bad feelings. I would have loved to play with these guys (Lofton, Baerga and Alomar) another five to 10 years. It didn’t work that way. But we’ve all gone on to have some success.”
Jack took particular aim at Minnesota rookie Derrick Williams calling him out for riding on the back of a motorcycle that he eventually (and lamely) jumped over.
He also made reference to Williams “cash register mouth” an apparent dig at the rookie’s underbite.
Williams responded in kind first pretending he didn’t know who Jack was and then suggesting “All I know is come draft night. That team lookin for a point guard.”
Williams checked himself after that saying he had to chill out. Jack eventually suggested Williams had to stop taking things so seriously, that he was only having some fun. But it didn’t sound like fun for either.
“Fifty years later, do we really want to be the only team in the league with even a question about the appropriateness of our name? Can’t we at least talk about that, without somebody wanting to start a fight for goodness sake?”
WRC’s Jim Vance is no Tom Ellis. And I mean that in the best way possible.
Contradicting a recent report by dogged detractor Howard Megdal claiming the Mets were no closer to finding new silent investors than they were months ago, owner Fred Wilpon told journalists at Port St. Lucie this morning that he’s lined up a number of new passive partners (if you count Jeff Wilpon and SNY), along with claiming, “there shouldn’t be concern about us owning the franchise…As long as I can, I plan to be the owner here.” From the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte :
“When I said two years ago that the Mets weren’t affected by the Madoff thing, I was telling the truth, because we weren’t (being) sued then. This was prior to the (Irving Picard) suit. Did it affect it? Sure,” Wilpon said. “It’s been a motion picture.
“But there was a point when the suit was almost three times what it is now, so it seems to be going hopefully in the right direction.”
Like Reyes last year, David Wright will play this season with an expiring contract and the possibility he will be traded before he hits free agency. Wilpon added that Wright’s situation “is not tied to” the Madoff proceedings.
“My intention is always to follow the baseball people in spite of what you all say that we run the baseball department. Sandy Alderson has a great feel for this, so does Terry, and if it works out, I’ll be thrilled,” Wilpon said. “There’s no finer guy, he’s just a very fine young man…and we’d be proud to have him as a son.”
Wilpon also was asked if the Mets’ finances will affect whether he authorizes Alderson to add payroll if the Mets are in contention.
“I would tell you let’s see how this team plays, and let’s see what we need,” he said, before adding of Alderson, “I don’t think I would’ve chosen anybody (as GM) that would’ve had a different philosophy. I was tired of throwing money at something and not getting the success.”
Not The Sniveling Shits, mind you. I’m not sure who was hoping for a hybrid of “Knight School”, “(Non)-Celebrity Rehab”, “Scared Straight” and the former Ultimate Warrior’s unique brand of life lessons, but if this catches on, I look forward to the entire Victory roster signing up.
Upon Andre Ethier reporting to Spring Training yesterday, an encounter with Southern California baseball scribes turned testy in a hurry. Not bird-flipping ugly, but awkward enough, reports the LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez, who described the Dodgers outfielder as “particularly impatient with questions regarding his increasingly uncertain future.”
Ethier wasn’t smiling. His face was expressionless. He didn’t say much. Whatever he said, he said quickly.
“I’m just giving you honest-truth answers,” he said. “I’m not your buddy, you’re not my buddy. We’re not going to sit here and have a bar-top conversation.”
Ethier wouldn’t say whether he would be open to negotiating a contract extension during the season with a new ownership group should the Dodgers be sold.
“It’s not my decision to make,” he said.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said when asked about Don Mattingly’s assertion that his temper resulted in 100 wasted at-bats.
Told that fans probably wanted to hear more from him, Ethier replied: “I’m here today to prepare hard, play to win and help the team win and that’s my ultimate goal. You’ll hear from the training staff if I’m not ready to go.”
Magic megastar Dwight Howard is in the awkward position of being the defacto host of the ongoing NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, while making no secret of desire to find a new, more competitive place of employ in the near future. Though it’s generally assumed the Magic have little chance of retaining Superman beyond this June, the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey suggests firing head coach Stan Van Gundy might improve relations, even though, “it’s decidedly dubious whether the hypersensitive Howard could take the withering global grief” were the journalist’s advice actually taken by the team.
It’s no secret Howard (and others) is dying to distance himself from the sound of Stan Van Gundy’s tedious screeching. Might management be willing to sacrifice a measly coach to accommodate their centrifugal force?
It certainly wouldn’t be a franchise first. Owner Richard DeVos approved Brian Hill’s firing when Penny Hardaway led an uprising, ignited the previous season by Shaquille O’Neal, whose mantra to management was, “We can’t get to the next level with this guy” and advocated the hiring of Chuck Daly.
Superstars slaying coaches is as old as Sparta. ESPN’s Michael Wilbon might want to raise that theme in an upcoming round table discussion, considering such an authority as Magic Johnson is on the panel.
If Madge could get Paul Westhead dumped, and he’d overseen a Lakers’ championship one season, a lost mini-series, and 11 (7-4) games prior, and later had outsized input into Pat Riley’s eviction following four titles, surely Howard has some sway/leverage regarding the retention of a coach (and GM, for that matter) who so far has supervised a single Finals appearance.