05.22.12

Schmitz : Magic Continue To Cover Up For Howard

Posted in Basketball at 4:13 pm by

In one of the least surprising developments in recent memory, Orlando relieved GM Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy of their respective duties yesterday, firings that immediately led to Jerry Sloan throwing his hat in the ring to replace Van Gundy. Taking umbrage at SVG being sacked via cell phone, the Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz all but calls Magic CEO Alex Martins a liar, writing, “anybody who doesn’t think this has everything to do with keeping Howard long-term hasn’t been following one of the most bizarre stories in sports.”|

Martins said Howard wanted no part of evaluating Van Gundy’s job performance. I think Dwight already gave his recommendation several times, although Martins denies Howard ever telling him he wanted Stan pink-slipped.

“Dwight never asked me for Stan to be fired,” Martins said.

But Martins knew. He knew because owner Rich DeVos knew. DeVos told me himself that Howard had gone to management.

The job also requires that you don’t tell the media that the superstar actually wants you fired. Van Gundy did – and that was Stan being Stan.

No other coach in the league was as brutally honest and entertaining. He was funny and fearless and relentless and maniacal.

Every game on the sideline was Shakespeare in the park with Stan. He lived and died with each possession. He worked himself to exhaustion. He wanted to win – more than some of his players did. He defended Howard more than he chastised him.

Did Stan wear on players? Absolutely. Did he make them better? Absolutely.

05.21.12

Citi Field Transformed Into A Not-So-Exciting Type Of All-Male Theatre

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York, Religion, The Internet at 6:13 pm by

As previewed in this space a few weeks ago (“Citi Field – Available For International Soccer, Pop Concerts…And Anti-Internet Porn Rallies”), Citi Field paid host yesterday to a massive all-dude, Orthodox Jewish rally on the insidious nature of technology.  The oversubscribed event was extended to neighboring Arthur Ashe Stadium, such was the demand for tickets to what organizers denied was solely about David Howard’s browser history internet smut…but we know better, right? From the New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum :

The rally in Citi Field on Sunday was sponsored by a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, that is linked to a software company that sells Internet filtering software to Orthodox Jews. Those in attendance were handed fliers that advertised services like a “kosher GPS App” for iPhone and Android phones, which helps users locate synagogues and kosher restaurants.

Nat Levy, 25, who traveled from Lakewood, N.J., to attend, said he frequently surfed the Web at a cafe, overseen by a local rabbi, that filtered out certain types of online content and monitored which Web sites he visited.

He said he often used the Internet to deal with customers for his company. “You get to do business the same way,” he said. “I have unlimited access, but it’s done in a kosher manner.”

Eytan Kobre, a spokesman for the event, delivered a more intense message to reporters outside the stadium. “The siren song of the Internet entices us!” he pronounced in a booming voice. “It brings out the worst of us!”

Still, Mr. Kobre confirmed that the event would be broadcast live on the Internet, via a stream available to homes and synagogues in Orthodox communities around the New York area. He said the general public would not be able to gain access, but several unauthorized streams appeared soon after the rally began.

Manny Ramirez’ Tourist Guide To Round Rock, TX

Posted in Baseball, Tourism at 2:24 pm by

(possibly the only Manny who’d find himself less welcome in Round Rock, TX)

If a few hundred more fans than usual fill the stands at the Round Rock Express’ Dell Diamond tonight, it might have something to do with the presence of Manny Ramirez in the starting lineup for the visiting Sacramento River Cats (PCL, AAA).  Ramirez, preparing to make his Oakland A’s debut after serving a 50 game suspension for PED usage, is not unaccustomed to enjoying the minor league experience. Since he’ll be spending a few days in Williamson County — just a stone’s throw (well, 35 minutes in shitty traffic) from CSTB HQ —- I thought it might be proper to offer some guidance on the amazing cultural hotbed that is Round Rock.

1) HEB PLUS.

This is the biggest supermarket I’ve ever visited.  They’ve got an impressive “ethnic foods” department, so if Manny needs to stock up on matzoh, he’s in luck.

PROS :  Fully stocked pharmacy, open til 9pm
CONS : If Manny’s wearing a hoodie, he might get shot.

2) Little Red Wagon Burgers

LRW is almost certainly one of the region’s top 250 burger establishments, and compared to the fare on offer at the Dell Diamond, Manny is far less likely to encounter food poisoning.

PROS : Several 2-3 star reviews on Yelp.  Withing walking distance from HEB Plus’ pharmacy.
CONS : if Manny is seen leaving the establishment wearing a hoodie, he might be shot.

3)  Ikea.

Manny will be spending a lot of time at the Emeryville, CA location, but what better way to get an early start on picking out new furniture than in the relatively calm shopping environment of the Round Rock Ikea?

PROS : Within walking distance of the Round Rock Factory Outlets
CONS : Pretty good chance Manny is getting tased in the parking lot, hoodie or not.

4) Terravista Golf Club

Chances are, Manny’s already made plans to take his River Kings teammates out for an afternoon on the links.

PROS : “This 18 hole Clifton-Ezell-Clifton design has captured the hill country beauty with views that reach 30 miles to the west. The rolling hills provide a challenging 7,200-yard layout whose 5 different tees will challenge golfers of all ages and abilities. ”
CONS : Are you kidding?  They’ve got snipers on the clubhouse roof, ready and waiting.

5) Guided tour of the SST Warehouse in nearby Taylor, TX

I realize basketball is more up Greg Ginn’s alley, but I’d like to think one deeply misunderstood icon would welcome another with open arms. And perhaps Manny can snag a copy of B’last’s ‘Take The Manic Ride’?

PROS : Having earned more than $200 million in his baseball career, Ramirez might be looking to diversify his portfolio. And what could be a better investment than SST’s exciting new projects?
CONS : Have you heard B’last’s ‘Take The Manic Ride’?

And that’s pretty much it.  Once upon a time, Manny could’ve sought out free wifi at Sandoro’s Coffeehouse & Cafe, but that’s no longer an option.

History’s Most Puzzling (non) eBay Auctions, Pt. IX

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner, The Marketplace at 11:51 am by

It takes some doing to come up with an auction less popular than one for an autographed Nash Kato guitar, but full credit to the classy people at Leland’s, who’d like to interest you in a “KKK Presentation Bat”, circa 1936.  Bidding starts at $1000 for what the auction house optimistically calls, “a phenomenal piece of American history”.

05.20.12

A Writer More Diplomatic Than T.J. Simers Would Say DeAndre Jordan Lacks A Sense Of Urgency

Posted in Basketball at 4:33 pm by

Instead, LA Times columnist Simers, while quick to call Clippers C Jordan, “funny, easygoing and as friendly an athlete as Los Angeles has to offer,” feels very comfortable calling the 24-year-old, “a waste of space.”  With LA trailing San Antonio, 3-0 in the Western Conference semi-finals, Simers’ peers are quick to hail Gregg Popovich and the revitalized Tim Duncan.  T.J., however, asks of Jordan, “how about playing like someone worried they might take his money away?”

“I disagree I’m not developing; I’m physical,” Jordan says. “Do you want me to flagrant-two somebody?”

How about just grabbing the ball when it’s loose, or maybe making contact while going for a rebound rather than just trying to leap over someone?

“So that means I’m not physical?” Jordan says. “I disagree with you.”

How about some offensive moves around the basket? To date, Jordan has made two baskets in his NBA career outside the free-throw lane.

“I don’t get those shots in a game, so I can’t prove to anyone I’ve developed that,” he says.

Much of his time is spent stewing over why he’s not in the game. But sometimes when he gets in, it’s as if he’s not there. He went one whole playoff game without getting a rebound. He went another not scoring a basket because he never attempted a shot.

“It’s a rhythm thing; if you play well, you play,” he says, and excuses, excuses. “Me coming out of the game, I don’t control that.”

But he does, of course. He played the entire first quarter in Game 1 against San Antonio because he dominated, and not surprisingly the Clippers and Spurs finished tied.

Tribe’s Perez : The Customers Are Always Wrong (Especially When I Can Hear Them)

Posted in Baseball at 11:14 am by

“I’m tired of getting booed at home,” Indians reliever Chris Perez said after earning a save in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Miami . “I figured I’d throw some strikes today. You can quote that,” Perez said in the presence of MLB Blogs’ Jordan Bastian (and probably a few other reporters),  and the latter attempts to provide background for the Cleveland closer’s uneasy relationship with Tribe fans.

Perez, who has gone 13-for-13 in save chances with a 1.72 ERA since an Opening Day blown save, entered Thursday’s 6-5 win over Seattle with the game caught in a 4-4 tie in the 10th inning. With one out, Perez allowed a single to Justin Smoak and then issued a walk to Casper Wells.

That is when fans sent a chorus of cat calls in Perez’s direction.

“They booed me against the Mariners when I had two guys on,” Perez said. “It feels like I can’t even give up a baserunner without people booing me. It’s even worse when there’s only 5,000 in the stands, because then you can hear it. It [ticks] me off.”

“I got two guys on,” he added later. “Yeah, my release point was all over the place, but really? I’ve got two guys on. They haven’t even scored yet and you’re booing me? You’re saying, ‘Get this bum off the mound.’ Come on.”

In that outing, Perez retired the next two hitters he faced to escape unscathed. After he struck out Seattle’s Jesus Montero to end the inning, Perez did not enjoy the crowd’s reaction.

“The mock standing applause just adds to it,” Perez said. “You see their true colors.”

05.19.12

If NYC Didn’t Dodge A Bullet With Their 2012 Summer Games Snub..

Posted in Mob Behavior, olympics, The Law, The Marketplace at 4:39 pm by

…they’ve managed to avoid The Long Range Acoustic Device. Or Drones with surveillance cameras. And how about that 11-mile electric fence?  These aren’t precautions for the Republican National Convention or preparations for the Cockney Rejects at Chaos In Tejas, but rather, the above schemes are being employed for this Summer’s 2012 Olympic Games in London. Said competitions, writes The Nation’s Dave Zirin, “aren’t about sport any more than the Iraq War was about democracy…they are a neoliberal Trojan Horse aimed at bringing in business and rolling back the most basic civil liberties.”

These “security issues” have been broadly defined to include everything from “terrorism” to peaceful protesters, to labor unions, to people selling bootleg Olympic products on the streets, to taking down any corporate presence that doesn’t have the Olympic seal of approval. To help them with the last part, there will be “brand protection teams” set loose around the city. These “teams” will also operate inside Olympic venues to make sure no one “wears clothes or accessories with commercial messages other than the manufacturers” who are official sponsors.

The security operation also means the kind of street harassment of working class youth that will sound familiar here in the United States. As the Guardian reported, “Officers have powers to move on anyone considered to be engaged in antisocial behaviour, whether they are hanging around the train station, begging, soliciting, loitering in hoodies or deemed in any way to be causing a nuisance.”

Not to shock anyone, but there are no signs that any of the security apparatus will be dismantled once the Olympics are over. Local police forces have just been given an inordinate number of new toys and the boxes have been opened, the receipts tossed away.

London will be left with a high-tech police force, terrible debt, higher taxes, with a camera around every corner. The only people who will leave this party enriched will be the private security industry, who will tout “the peace” as their personal accomplishment, encouraging more of the global 1 percent to get more guards, more walls and more separation from the great unwashed.

Brandon McCarthy : Verbal Abuse Never Solved Anything

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 3:36 pm by

Umpire Laz Dias has reportedly apologized for blowing a call on A’s P Brandon McCarthy’s alleged trap / non-catch of a bunt by Texas’ Elvis Andrus Thursday afternoon. McCarthy took exception to Diaz’ ruling, but tells readers of his BMCCARTHYTHOUGHTS blog, “raging can be fun, but nothing gets accomplished.”

That point in the game was extremely high leverage. If he correctly rules that I caught it, then I’ve completed six innings (helpful for saving the bullpen) and we’re tied. After that play, Texas were now up 4-3 with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out. That is two massively different scenarios as a result of that decision. Combine that with another grown adult telling me that I trapped the ball (when I knew for a fact that wasn’t the case) and I exploded.

Usually I enjoy swearing, but only on much friendlier terms. I was swearing at Laz like he had personally tried to screw me and now the more I look back at it, I was being an asshole. I could’ve sworn at him until my cerebellum melted, but what would that have solved? Nothing.

In the future, I think I’m going to start going for the much calmer discussion/debates.  I’m very aware that Laz did what he felt was correct. I don’t know how he didn’t see me catch that ball, but he says he did and under his job title, I’m obligated to abide by that. He’s just doing his job as best as he knows how, and I stood there and screamed and belittled him for it. That’s not how I want to carry myself going forward.

05.18.12

Curt Schilling : Fugazy Conservative

Posted in Baseball, politics, The Marketplace, Video Games at 2:46 pm by

Former Phillies/D-Backs/Red Sox starter Curt Schilling’s video game production firm, 38 Studios, took a $75 million loan from Rhode Island upon relocating their operation from Massachusetts in 2010. On Wednesday, Schilling (above, far right) attempted to make a $1.1 million payment on the loan after warning the state they’d be unable to make payroll, then warning R.I.’s Economic Development Corporation the $1.1 million check was likely to bounce. Noting that Schilling earned $118 million during his baseball career (including $8 million in 2008, a season he missed due to injury), “it must’ve been his left arm he thrust out for public funds.”

Schilling spent no small amount of time in his career preaching the Republican mantra of smaller government and personal responsibility. He did this fresh off the historic Red Sox World Series win when he backed George W. Bush in the 2004 campaign. He did it on the stump on behalf of John McCain in 2008.

He did it for Scott Brown in January 2010, when he wrote in his blog, “He’s for smaller government,’’ and lauding Brown’s opposition to “creating a new government insurance program.’’

Apparently smaller government, in Schilling’s world, applies to other people, maybe city kids stuck in underperforming schools or disabled adults looking for help back and forth to medical appointments. But for a former six-time Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher whose business venture can create jobs (!), bask in the greatness, people, and open the public vault.

Let’s stipulate here that the Rhode Island officials who committed this public money to 38 Studios are idiots. I mean nothing negative by that; it’s just the only possible adjective that applies. All right, maybe “sycophants’’ works as well because they were probably hyperventilating at the sight of his World Series rings and that he knew their names. Really, what public official bets the farm on a video game called “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,’’ while Central Falls is in receivership and Providence is fending off bankruptcy?

Raissman : Tortella Is MSG’s Answer To Bobby V.

Posted in Hockey at 2:19 pm by

NY Rangers head coach John Tortella’s brusque manner during postgame press conferences strikes some as amusing, though the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman seems to side with Mike Milbury who calls the behavior, “borderline of just being rude.” “Imagine what the flow of information from media to fans would be like,” scolds Raissman, “if Joe Girardi, Terry Collins, Rex Ryan, Tom Coughlin, and the others, decided to borrow heavily from Tortorella’s media manifesto?”

His postgame performances suggest the coach believes he’s the smartest guy in the room. In a Valentinesque sort of way, Tortorella probably thinks he invented the game of hockey.

There is so much focus on him that if the Rangers should lose, either to the Devils or in the Stanley Cup Finals, Tortorella will be the fall guy, the scapegoat. He didn’t consciously make himself the center of attention (we think), but that’s what he is now. He owns the spotlight.

And the very way he’s performed in it, the way he’s made his postgame sessions (no matter how short) must-see-TV, may not have exactly endeared him to those asking questions and having them answered with stuff like: “Your microphone doesn’t work.” Or ,“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Or, “That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous.” Or, “Stop coaching, Pat.”

If the bottom drops out on the Rangers, how long will it take for those covering the series, those on the receiving end of belligerent nonanswers, to start wondering if the Rangers have become an uptight team, a mirror image of their tightly wound coach?