(what, you were expecting he’d be pen pals with Eerie Von?)
Full credit this Sunday morning to the Newark Star-Ledger’s Andy McCullough, who has accomplished the near-impossible ; in discussing Jason Bay’s musical preferences, gig-going history (beating the traffic before the end of a Metallica show, attending a 1996 Rage Against The Machine performance described as, “I couldn’t have picked a more raucous concert to go to,”) and virtual friendship with Eddie Vedder, the Mets’ underachieving left-fielder comes off as uncooler than he did previously. Which is saying something. Unless and until Mike Piazza starts blogging about who he’d save if Dream Theatre and King’s X were both drowning at the same time, it will take some doing to top the following cringe-worthy exchange.
1. So how did you get to know Vedder? Sean Casey, who’s a diehard Pearl Jam fan, he’s hung out with Eddie numerous times. When I got traded to Boston, we played a game and that night Eddie was playing somewhere in Boston on his solo tour. And he signed this poster, “Hey, Jason, welcome to the Red Sox.” And then Casey gave me his number. So we text back and forth.
2. Were you nervous when you first met? I’ve never met him. I’ve never actually technically met him. And that’s the funny part. Casey was like, “Hey, here’s his number, he said text him.” So he was like “Hey, sounds good man. If I’m ever up in Seattle recording . . .” He’s never up there. He’s got a lot going on. I’m probably the last person [on his mind]. “Oh, I’ve got to call Jason Bay!”
3. So you’re e-migos? Absolutely. Our avatars hang out.
4. So what do you text about? Randomly, I saw he got married. “Hey, congrats.” “Hey, thanks, man. Heard you had a baby.” Stuff like that. “Hey, you’re album’s coming out tomorrow. I need new walkup music. Anything good?” And he was like, ‘Not going to help you there, bud. It’s all ukulele.”
Valentine once got ripped by the New York press (me, included) for suggesting Mets star Todd Hundley “needed more sleep,” which was actually a kind way of saying that he stayed out too late, which is a kind way of saying he should maybe drink a bit less. Hundley was a really nice man, but Valentine was right (yes, I was wrong). Hundley still is a great guy, but everyone around that team knew he should have drank less.
Valentine was lambasted at the time by Hundley’s enabling agents, the Levinson brothers, who should have realized Valentine was right and gotten their client to sleep more. The agents should have thanked Valentine for caring about Hundley but instead to this day carry on a behind-the-scenes campaign against Valentine over his kind euphemisms. Not nice.
In this case, no one could argue with Valentine, unless not publicly. Red Sox star David Ortiz told Dan Roche of WBZ-FM, “We’re not here to drink. We’re here to play baseball. It ain’t a bar.”
Anyway, Valentine isn’t afraid to do what’s unpopular. Asked how his decision was received at today’s team meeting, Valentine said, “Do you mean was it a standing ovation or booing.”
Enormously successfully Madonna tribute artist Lady Gaga’s interest in the Grand Olde Game is well documented — it was only two years ago the pop star made an appearance in the Yankee clubhouse, followed shortly afterwards by a controversial visit to Citi Field. So it should come as little surprise that in the latest issue of V Magazine, the former Stephanie Germanotta tackles the subject of Tracy Ringolsby least favorite film since “Lottery Ticket”.
I lay down on the airplane back from Japan, tossing around some dashi, fondling my pearls. I watched the movie Moneyball for the first time. I began to laugh and smile as [Brad] Pitt talked romantically about the game. I suddenly imagined that my pearls were teeny-tiny baseballs. When a player hits a home run, the baseball is flung into an abyss of enigma and screams so great. It travels so far that only rarely is one caught in the bleachers. Where do these balls go? Where do all these wins get encased? Are they in a heavenly baseball land floating around for players who pass to acknowledge? Or do they disappear?
By the end of the film, we discover the truth about winning from our hero. It only matters if you’ve changed the game. Being kicked in the teeth is par for the course for this kind of win, a win that not only pisses off the team you’ve beat, but every other team, their coaches, owners, and even some of the greatest baseball players of all time. You’ve made your own set of rules and gone so far on your own talent, no one can possibly crack the truth behind your wins. You were either lucky or were cheating. Nobody likes the game that they’ve won over and over again to change.
….to say nothing of my efforts to remain the laziest pseudo-sports blogger in North America. I know it’s easy to sneer at younger folks waiting outside shopping malls for overpriced sneakers, but if you told me other coveted goods were up for grabs inside one of these suburban monuments to materialism, who’s to say I’d not be on the receiving end of a truncheon beat-down, too?
As mentioned far and wide, Ryan Braun no longer has a 50 game suspension hanging over his head after an arbitration panel nullfied his MLB-imposed PED penalty. Reached for comment by The Star’s Brendan Kennedy, former World Anti-Doping Association head Dick Pound (above) argues the reigning NL MVP got off, “on a very thin legal technicality that has no substantive value at all,” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
“He’s running around saying that he’s cleared is a misstatement,” insisted Pound. “Anybody who’s at all neutral in this is going to say, ‘Well, he dodged a bullet with that.’ ”
“This is a 20:1 ratio (of testosterone to epitestosterone) — give me a … break,” Pound said, adding that storing the sample in a fridge over a weekend would not change its contents.
“There was no sign of any tampering, so I don’t understand how a properly formed independent panel could come to the conclusion that that invalidated the test,” Pound said. “It’s not sitting there in the fridge generating false testosterone.”
Pound said Major League Baseball should review its contract with its players regarding performance-enhancing drugs in order to close any loopholes that may be there. But he blames Das, the independent arbitrator, not the league, for what he believes was the wrong decision.
“Frankly, (Das) should have had more sense or more judgment.”
When he wasn’t quoting scripture (and lines from that great religious epic, “The Waterboy”, Rangers OF Josh Hamilton told an assembled Spring Training media throng earlier today that he’s not inclined to let his recent alcohol relapse diminish his bargaining power with Texas. From the Dallas Morning News’ Evan P. Grant :
“The Rangers have done great things for me,” Hamilton said. “Let me ask you a question: Have I done great things for the Rangers? I think I’ve given everything I had. This is still a business. It’s the entertainment business, but it’s still a business.
“I love Texas. I love my fans. I love fans of the Rangers. I love the organization. I love my teammates. I love everything about it. But I’m not going to sit here and say that I owe the Rangers. I don’t feel like I owe the Rangers.”
Hamilton was asked if he would reward himself a long-term contract, if he had the opportunity to decide.
“It’s not for me to make that decision,” Hamilton said. “I hate that this happened. They have been very good to me. But I know I will play baseball. I know God has taken care of me and provided for my family. I’m not going to just jump at whatever might be the first thing offered me. I’m confident in my sobriety. I’m confident in my family’s support. I’m here and I’m going to play baseball.”
J.R. Smith tallied 14 points off the bench in the Knicks’ 102-88 loss in Miami Thursday, but it’s a far more audacious sum that’s making headlines this week, as NIUBBall.com claims the former Nuggets SG accumulated fines in the 7-digit territory during his NBA lockout-inspired stint in China this year (link swiped from Yahoo’s Eric Freeman).
According to a report published by NetEase, Smith had US $1.06 million deducted from his salary over the course of the season for missing practices. Most of the missed practices came during pre-season while his team, Zhejiang Chouzhou, was getting ready for the start of the regular season. The sum was deducted from his salary, a final number that represented about one-third of his total salary.
Zhejiang Chouzhou general manager, Zhao Bing, said that the team was simply enforcing a clause in Smith’s signed contract and that the team gave him ample warning throughout.
“This was the arrangement when he came to the team,” said Zhao. “Every practice we let him know. If he expressed to us that he wasn’t going to come to practice, we’d tell him that in accordance with our contract, we’re deducting money from your salary. And he’d always get back to us with, ‘Whatever. If you’re going to take it, then just take it.’”
The article adds that Zhao Bing repeatedly told J.R. about the seriousness of the situation, but that he continued with the attitude that it was an unimportant issue for him.
Someone familiar with the decision said the appeal went Braun’s way not so much on contesting the result of the test but the testing process itself, some kind of technicality. And it was arbitrator Shyam Das who decided to rule in favor on that technicality, making it a 2-1 decision by the three-man panel.
It is my understanding that MLB officials are not pleased with how this played out and will be making a statement in support of the drug testing process. And they indeed have put out a statement saying they “vehemently disagree” with the arbitrator’s decision.
A source familiar with MLB’s drug policy indicated there were only a few ways to overturn a positive test, such as proving a chain-of-custody issue, a flaw in the collection process or providing proof that the player’s team signed off on the substance. Otherwise, the “strict liability” aspect of the policy makes it extremely difficult to exonerate a player.
Apparently, Braun won his appeal by contesting something in the process itself.
Tampa police pulled over Dukes’ orange Chevy Camaro for a routine traffic stop at Nebraska and Sligh avenues at 1:08 a.m. today, according to an arrest report.
When officers approached him, they saw flakes of marijuana on Dukes’ shirt, the report said. Dukes, 27, who played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2007, was also trying to eat a small bag of pot, police said.
Dukes, of 5528 Liberty Plain Circle, Tampa, was charged with tampering with physical evidence, possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia and three counts of driving with a canceled or suspended license, according to the sheriff’s office.
Thank you, thespian powerhouse Rich Johnston for the heads up about the existence of the above, forthcoming motion picture. I’m no Pauline Kael, but from this vantage point, Rich and colleague Matt Horseshit have already managed a more impressive filmography than Chris Issak and John Taylor combined.