04.26.12

The Price Is Wrong : NYDN Scribe’s Irrational Take On Jose Reyes

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:54 pm by

(l-r : Gallant, Goofus)

Earlier today during the Marlins/Mets matinee, SNY’s Kevin Burhardt, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez observed that Mets 3B David Wright is one of the game’s truly nice guys, with the third-baseman’s mom and dad receiving special praise for their parenting skills.

Though I don’t know Wright personally, I have no reason to doubt the firsthand accounts of Burkhardt, Cohen or Hernandez.  If they believe David Wright is a kind, considerate person in good times and bad, they’d know far better than me.  But I don’t recall at any point during Jose Reyes’ tenure in Flushing, being told that his effervescent personality was a testament to his parents’ guidance and inspiration.

The purpose of this post isn’t to bury the Mets TV crew.  I happen to think they’re wildly entertaining (in good times and bad) and I don’t believe there’s a weird agenda on their part (certainly ownership isn’t encouraging them to build up Wright’s market value).  But there’s been a bit of revisionist history of late (subtle and otherwise) about Reyes’ contributions as a Met and whether or not he ranks as one of the club’s all-time greats.  The New York Daily News’ Bill Price (“your (sic) the enemy now, pal.  deal with it”), argues the former Amazins’ shortstop isn’t even in their top 5 position players.

When you talk all-time Met position players, four jump out immediately: Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter.  I think Ed Kranepool, Rusty Staub, Cleon Jones, Mookie and David Wright go on that list ahead of Reyes. And if you ask me, HoJo and Maz may get the nod, too.

Ok, I know Reyes has some of the best numbers in the franchise’s history, but this is not about numbers, if it were, John Franco and Armando Bentiez would be ahead of Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell on any list.

This is about what he meant to the franchise. Listen, Jose was a great Met, very exciting, hit a lot of triples, stole a lot of bases, but he is also one of the faces of an unacheiving group that blew two division leads and lost an NLCS to an inferior opponent.

It’s a fascinating argument, one that’s only slightly undermined by the difficulty I’m having finding archival footage of Piazza’s early years in the Mets farm system, or the ticker-tape parade down Broadway after he led the club to a 2000 Subway Series victory over the Yankees.  Likewise, Rusty Staub (!) had only 3  1/2 seasons as a full-time player in Queens, but clearly that 1973 World Series triumph over Oakland stands in stark contrast to Reyes’ role in single-handedly ensuring a Game 7 loss to St. Louis in 2006.

And who amongst us would ever call David Wright, one of the faces of an unacheiving (sic) group that blew two division leads and lost an NLCS to an inferior opponent,”?

Schulman : Give Aubrey Huff Some Breathing Room

Posted in Baseball, Mental Health at 1:57 pm by

Is there any connection between Aubrey Huff’s eventful debut at 2B last Saturday afternoon in Flushing and the Giants veteran leaving the team this week? Perhaps not, but with Huff being placed on the 15 day disabled list with what’s being called an anxiety disorder, the SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman provides a uniquely personal perspective  on the matter.

Since 2009 I have been treated for depression, in therapy and medicinally, and continue to be treated. Many awful things happened to me and people around me in a very short time, and my mental health was affected. Anxiety and panic attacks were part of it.

I say this, then, from experience. Everybody will have an opinion about what set this off, but you can’t know, and it’s possible Huff doesn’t know. Sometimes a panic attack just happens.

Remember, Huff has gone through a lot in his life, including his father being murdered when Aubrey was 7. Huff’s career has stalled, and he has made many comments (usually in jest) about the end of his baseball days. Saturday’s episode at second base had to be embarrassing. There also must be personal issues that remain undisclosed, too. It’s foolish to try to play psychoanalyst in a blog or a living room and try to pick a cause.

04.25.12

Husker Don’t : Nebraska Assistant’s Stance Against “A Lifestyle Of Sin”

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Religion, The Law at 8:02 pm by

“To be fired for my faith would be a greater honor than to be fired because we didn’t win enough games,” says Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown, who earlier this year testified against an Omaha anti-discrimination ordinance designed to protect gays and the transgendered.  Brown denies that he’s bigoted against homosexuals, telling the AP, “”The scriptures teach that blacks were created by God, that women were created by God, but that homosexuals… that is not what God had in mind at all…”I have simply said that based on the Bible, homosexuality, the lifestyle of homosexuality, is a sin.”

Thus far, Brown’s Nebraska superiors — including A.D. Tom Osbourne and head coach Bo Pelini — stress Brown’s right to express his personal views, though there’s a tiny chance he’ll have a shot at the martyrdom he claims to be unafraid of.  Can a state university get away with employing a coach who is going far out of his way to make the school less attractive to gay recruits? If Brown is dumb or delusional enough to believe the Cornhusker locker room is devoid of gay players, fine. He has every right to pretend such a thing is impossible. But an educator (ok, I’m using that term loosely) for a public institution cannot willfully contribute to an environment where Nebraska’s gay students are considered to be of lesser character than their straight classmates.

Man At The End Of His Rope Humbly Suggests Ned Yost Has A Low Baseball IQ

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 3:16 pm by

Though I’d tend to believe the above Twitter account is not the work of the already-famous “Royals Book Guy”, there’s no telling what a 3-14 start for Kansas City will do to the mindset of the few persons willing to attend their sorry displays in person. Of KC’s current 11 game losing streak coming so quickly on the heels of the club proclaiming 2012 was “Our Time”, Rany On The Royals’ Rany Jazayerli declares, “nearly 6 years after Dayton Moore was hired…the team has dumped a steaming pile of crap on the curb.”

I can put up with the losing. I can put up with the delayed gratification, even if that delay now amounts to most of my lifetime. But I can’t put up with stupidity. I can’t put up with a team that has only one solution for every problem that develops: keep doing what we’re doing, only do it more. We keep getting thrown out on the bases? Just keep running, and eventually it will work. Making too many outs with runners in scoring position? Make them deliberately!

The other team walks more than our team does? Clearly the problem is with our pitchers, because whether a batter walks or not is completely up to the pitcher’s control, and never mind the fact that Bill James disproved that 35 years ago. God forbid we should encourage our hitters to be more patient at the plate. Yesterday Danny Duffy needed 113 pitches to face 24 batters; Ricky Romero needed only 104 to face 30. The Royals have drawn a below-average number of walks 22 years in a row, and not only is that unlikely to change in 2012, the Royals don’t even think that needs to change.

And now it’s 2012, one year after the Royals were acclaimed as having The Best Farm System Ever, the first year in ages that rational analysts (i.e. analysts other than myself) actually predicted the Royals to finish .500 or even above. And it’s clear now: no matter how far you think the Royals have come, no matter how fast you think they’re going, an 11-game losing streak is always trailing a step behind, ready to pounce like the demonic monkeys in Temple Run.

Ken Bates : Doing His Best To Revive Print Media

Posted in Football, Free Expression, non-sporting journalism, The Law at 11:07 am by

Leeds United chairman Ken Bates (above), a CSTB fixture during his tenure at Chelsea, faces harrassment charges from LFC’s former director, Melvyn Levi and his wife, Carol, stemming from Bates’ column in Leeds’ match day program.  “Is anybody exercising control or is an elderly man being indulged in his vendettas?”, asks the Levis’ solicitor, though isn’t that typically what chairman’s notes are for? From the Guardian’s David Conn :

The Levis are suing Bates personally, Leeds United and the club-owned Yorkshire Radio station, claiming that several of Bates’s programme articles and two Yorkshire Radio broadcasts amounted to harassment of the couple. Bates, giving evidence at Leeds county court, said he continued to write about Levi because of a legal dispute, dating back to 2005, in which he claims a company connected to Levi owes the club £190,400, which Levi rejects.

Levi’s barrister, Simon Myerson QC, accused Bates of wanting to make the Levis’ lives “miserable” and said: “This is the way you conduct a legal dispute. It is not good enough for it to be in the courts. You can write about it in the programme because you own the club.”

Key to the case is an episode over Christmas 2010, after a representative instructed by Bates to serve a writ on Levi was told by Carole Levi that her husband was away and not back until the new year. Four days later, before and at half-time during Leeds’s match against Leicester City on Boxing Day, Yorkshire Radio broadcast an appeal to listeners to contact the club if they knew of Levi’s whereabouts.

Bates then wrote in the programme for the 1 January match against Middlesbrough: “We have not served Mr Levi with his writ as his wife said he was away until the New Year, which makes me speculate as to why they split for the festive season.”

In irritable exchanges with Myerson, who represented Levi in his successful libel claim against Bates in 2009 over the Leeds owner’s programme articles, Bates said Myerson had never worked “in the real world”. Myerson said pointedly: “In the real world, people can buy football clubs, have their own column in the programme, and write whatever you like about people you don’t like.”

Bates retorted: “You are being pathetic now.”

04.24.12

The ’72-’73 Sixers Remind Dwight Howard (& The Rest Of Us) That “Coach Killer” Need Not Be A Euphemism

Posted in Basketball at 6:42 pm by

If the Charlotte Bobcats succeed in tanking their remaining games against Orlando and New York, are the suckiest team in pro hoops history?  Noting the Bobcats have a lockout shortened 66 game schedule, former Sixers coach Kevin Loughery suggests putting an asterisk next to Charlotte’s mark for futility.  Through the wonders of Sports Illustrated’s L. Jon Wertheim’s memories of the ’72-73 Philly squad that lost a record 73 games, we can conclude one thing for certain.   F John Q. Trapp hated sitting on the bench.

3-31: An otherwise forgettable loss to the Detroit Pistons was made memorable when head coach Roy Rubin attempted to substitute for forward John Q. Trapp. Although Rubin denies it, legend has it that Trapp refused to come out and then instructed Rubin to look behind the bench. When the coach turned around, one of Trapp’s consorts supposedly opened his jacket and showed Rubin his handgun. With Trapp still in the game, the Sixers lost 141-113.

4-47: At the All-Star break Philadelphia axed Rubin and named Kevin Loughery as player-coach. Rubin, his coaching reputation forever besmirched, moved to Florida and bought an International House of Pancakes franchise. “I don’t hold any grudges, but the day I came in, Billy Cunningham, the team’s best player, jumped to the ABA and things went downhill from there,” says Rubin, who now works with at-risk kids in Miami. “All the losing really eats you up, and it took me awhile to get over that season.” Incidentally, after Loughery’s elevation, one of the team’s first roster moves was to release John Q. Trapp.

D-Train : Birds Are Jerking Me Around

Posted in Baseball at 3:51 pm by

Former Marlins/Tigers starter Dontrelle Willis  has filed a grievance against Baltimore, claiming O’s GM Dan Duquette had promised his unconditional release prior to the veteran left-hander leaving the club’s Norfolk affiliate (AAA) last Friday.   Pleading his case to MASN.com’s Roch Kubatko, Willis explains, “I talked to my representative and talked to one of the reps from Baltimore, as far as granting my release, and then all of a sudden I’m hearing I’m on the restricted list.”

“From anybody on the outside looking in, it raises eyebrows, like there’s something wrong at home, wrong with me. It’s not that way. I thought it was a mutual parting of ways. It’s one of those things where, if he had told me he was putting me on the restricted list, I wouldn’t have left. I didn’t grab my book bag and run out of the class. I’m almost dumbfounded. I’m not even upset. I don’t know if it’s personal because I don’t know Dan.”

“I don’t understand. I’m a guy that, and you can ask anyone who’s dealt with me, I don’t want any problems with anybody. I just want to play baseball and do that and go home. I don’t understand what’s really going on. I don’t know if there’s been a miscommunication there. Not with me. I talked to my agent and we talked about it, I talked to the proper representation, I talked to Dan personally. It wasn’t by text or phone where there could be a misunderstanding. There were others in the room. It was face-to-face. I don’t know what’s going on. And now if I want to sign with another team, I can’t.”

Rumors are circulating that Willis has an offer from a team in Japan and another one in Korea, but his agent, Matt Sosnick said there are no offers from “foreign or domestic teams.”

Nats Skipper Davey Johnson, Clearly Not An Avid George Pelecanos Reader

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron at 2:36 pm by

 

Davey Johnson made an appearance on the MLB Network yesterday and had a very curious observation about our nation’s capitol, leading the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg to suggest, “possibly he got cracked in the head with a bat.”

“I like challenges,” Johnson said. “And this is a challenge: to put Washington on the map. It’s a baseball town, not a football town.”

I’m thinking Johnson maybe was the victim of some aggressive editing here, and he was trying to argue that his challenge is to create a situation where one day you could say of Washington, it’s a baseball town, not a football town.

04.23.12

Nets To Jayson Williams : Maybe You’d Like To Take In A Mets Game, Instead?

Posted in Basketball at 4:35 pm by

Tonight in Newark, the Sixers’ visit to Prudential Center marks the end of top-flight (ahem) professional basketball in the Garden State. While the Nets plan to commemorate their glorious Jersey tenure with pregame festivities featuring such solid citizens as Derrick Coleman and Michael Ray Richardson, a man who was at onetime, the face of the franchise, finds himself persona non grata, as the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy explains :

Jayson Williams, fresh out of Rikers Island, wasn’t invited to Monday night’s ceremony celebrating the Nets’ final game in New Jersey.

But the former All-Star, who dominated the glass in the late ’90s, clearly hasn’t lost his love for the franchise that harbored his best basketball years. After prison and rehabilitation, the New Jersey resident is clearly eager to rekindle a relationship with the Nets — even if the team isn’t ready.

“I don’t think there is a person who loves the Nets as much as I do — from our fans, all the employees in the arenas, the front office personnel and the owners,” Williams said through his longtime friend and manager, Akhtar Farzaie. “I will always be loyal to our fans and the Nets.”

Williams, the former St. John’s center, who accidentally shot and killed his limousine driver in 2002, was not contacted by the Nets after being released April 13.

Ex Jet Pryce : Retirement Sucks

Posted in Gridiron at 12:43 pm by

Given the stories we read about brain damage, depression and failed situation comedy ventures amongst the NFL’s retired players, should we really feel bad for former Broncos/Jets DE Trevor Pryce, who left the game at the age of 37 in relatively good physical and financial condition?  Pryce, whose dabbling in the worlds of independent label operations and film/TV production leave him with a deeper background than most ex-jocks, admits in a Monday New York Times guest editorial, that he’s “secure and utterly bored”.

Now I find myself in music chat rooms arguing the validity of Frank Zappa versus the Mars Volta. (If the others only knew Walkingpnumonia was the screen name for a former All-Pro football player and not some Oberlin College student trying to find his place in the world.) I wrote a book. I set sail on the picturesque and calming waters of Bodymore, Murdaland. And when I’m in dire straits, I do what any 8-year-old does; I kick a soccer ball against the garage hoping somebody feels sorry and says, “Hey, want to play?”

During the six-month off-seasons, I pretty much educated myself, dabbling in music, Hollywood, journalism, real estate and everything in between, with varying degrees of success. I was able to do a lot in so little time. Now that I have all the time in the world, it’s amazing how little I accomplish every day. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Most times not.

Nothing truly prepared me for retirement. It hit me across the face like a Deacon Jones head slap. Suddenly, I’m sitting around at 10:30 a.m. looking for something good on television — which is impossible.