Former Boston lefty Bill Lee took a no-hitter into the 5th inning last night for the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North Atlantic League, ultimately hanging around for a complete game, 9-4 victory over the Maui Na Koa Ikaika last night. “Lee did not take the Albert Field mound wearing a gas mask, a Daniel Boone cap or a beanie with a propeller,” writes a somewhat disappointed Daniel Brown of the Contra Costa Times, also adding the Spaceman claims to have flipped off a Yankee fan en route to Johnny Pesky’s funeral.
In those days, as now, Lee threw a baffling assortment of junkballs — an appropriate repertoire, given his personality type. Lee said a high school knee injury, combined with an already weird body type — “sway back, big ass,” is how he put it — allowed him to put a natural sink on the ball.
Lee’s only handicap Thursday was that both his sway back and ample backside were sore. He never stopped trying to stretch out, bending and twisting as he spoke. As the Pacifics gathered ’round to listen to Lee in the bullpen before the game, he offered this bit of gray-haired wisdom: “For you guys out looking for dates tonight, find a massage therapist.”
The late Reggie White was as verbally and demonstratively religious as Tim Tebow. White was praised for it, admired for it, respected for it. He was never, ever mocked for it, not even after he created a brief tempest when he condemned homosexuality from a pulpit. Yet Tebow’s religiosity is relentlessly ridiculed by fans, media, NFL opponents and late-night TV show hosts. Why the radical difference in treatment?
Y’know, if I’m ever inclined to wake up some morning feeling glum about how few newspaper columnists are ready to defend the white race against double standards, at least I can face the day knowing Phil Mushnick is always on the case. And it would help matters considerably if I chose to ignore some pretty basic facts. Like for instance, the late Reggie White — however bigoted against homosexuals he might’ve been — was pretty respected as professional football player. White went to the Pro Bowl thirteen times. He was the NFC Defense Player Of The Year on three occasions. His number was retired by the Eagles and the Packers, and White was elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Despite all these achievements, CBS still saw fit to tear up a $6 million contract for White’s TV analysis after he publicly blamed homosexuals for a litany of society’s ills. Perhaps Phil doesn’t think that’s nearly as bad as being widely ridiculed, but it’s a pretty fair bet had White and his statements survived into the era of sports blogs and Twitter, he’d have been a far bigger target than Tebow.
As for the 25 Year Old Virgin, he’s pretty fucking easy to ridicule. And much of that mockery stems not simply from his “religiosity”, but from Tebow’s proselytizing and anti-abortion advocacy. Had Reggie White appeared in a similar Super Bowl commerical alongside his mom, chances are very slim no one would’ve taken issue with it.
Of course, all sorts of things are tolerated when someone is very good at their job. For instance, Tebow’s current team once employed a former pill-popper who liked to send lewd text messages to women who weren’t his wife. The guy in question was far more adept at throwing a forward pass than Tebow, yet didn’t escape the wrath of the public or media. Given that Tim Tebow’s professional resume is pretty modest compared to Reggie White (and I’m being kind here), his non-football activities are going to prove tiresome for reasons that aren’t limited to religion or politics. Some folks are just plain sick of the guy.
“We are gluttons for punishment for allowing this man to hoodwink us after giving him a quarter of a billion dollars to renovate Kauffman Stadium so he can make additional millions. And we get nothing but bad baseball in return.”
It’s pretty tempting to buy a similar ad in a New York paper encouraging Fred & Jeff Wilpon to end their serial neglect of the town’s other (alleged) MLB franchise. Until I remember that a) they’ll pay no mind, and b) placing such an ad would only serve to enrich Rupert Murdoch, Mortimer Zuckerman or James Dolan. Some choice.
There’s no name more damning in the NYC sports lexicon than that of Rich Kotite (well, other than Sid Rosenberg). After the Mets scored 5 runs in 36 innings against the Rockies’ horrible pitching staff, I suppose WFAN’s Mike Francesa can be excused for well, telling the truth. Fred and Jeff Wilpon “oughta be ashamed to show their faces in public”, protests Mike, though they’ve been pretty invisible for a while.
I’d love to blame Francesa for taking all the shine off Colin McHugh’s major league debut, but the latter’s teammates are more guilty of that.
Hey, no offense, F.P., but I was just trying to come up with the single most prominent ballplayer from a prior generation of Oakland/SF vets who were associated with performance enhancing drugs. Since I can’t quite remember any of the others, let’s instead turn to the matter of A’s starter Bartolo Colon, suspended yesterday for 50 after testing positive for testosterone (and not, as Matthew Callan suggested, “for gravy”). El Barto’s bust comes shortly on the heels of the Giants’ Melky Cabrera’s 50 game banishment, a coincidence that ESPN’s Buster Olney insists is just that. “There is no such thing as a Giants PED problem, or a Yankees or Athletics PED problem,” declared Olney, however, closer to the scene of the crime, the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami argues, “The Bay Area is the Hometown of Steroids…and that’s both frustrating and incredibly devastating for the credibility of the two teams’ achievements this season.”
In Bay Area baseball, too-good-to-be-true almost always turns out to be chemically aided and soon-to-be-an-embarrassment. At this point, nobody in the Bay Area can be blindsided by anything like this anymore.
We all just go into automatic mode now: Absorb the news, wait for the player’s public statement, try to figure out how the team will deal with it.
But the A’s have lost credibility with this, as all teams lose credibility when they win games with players who are proven cheaters. They won 14 games that Colon started, including five of his last six starts. If the A’s fail to make the playoffs, they can point to the loss of Colon at this crucial period. If they do make the postseason, the 14 victories he helped get will be a part of it.
And it all makes 2012 unclean, tainted, and a perfect reflection of Bay Area baseball, the cradle and largest current purveyor of steroid use.
The top-shelf edition of Nike’s new LeBron X shoe carries a list price of $315.00, a sum CBS Sports.com’s Gregg Doyel (above) finds discouraging. James, ‘still uses kids as pawns, whether it’s the Boys & Girls Club he held up like a human shield when he went on national television to announce he was taking his narcissism to South Beach — or whether it’s this. Shoes most of his young fans can’t afford.” Presumably LeBron’s allowed to hawk products to adults, too?
Poor kids are gonna find a way to buy the $315 LeBron X. Some of them, the dorks and losers, will settle for the $180 brand that doesn’t come with the bells and whistles and street cred of the most expensive version, which will apparently tell a kid more than his quickness or vertical leap. The $315 version will also tell a kid he’s cool, he’s secure, he’s valuable because he’s wearing shoes that other kids want.
And there’s merit in that, come to think of it. Self-esteem at any age is valuable, but for a kid it’s priceless.
But LeBron is willing to put a price on it. Your self-esteem is worth $315, check payable to Nike, royalties due to King James.
LeBron is trading on the most vulnerable part of his fan base: their self-image. He knows there are kids out there who will do whatever it takes to slip their feet into the same shoes worn by LeBron. How does a poor family, the kind of family in which LeBron grew up — born to a single mother, LeBron and his teen-aged mom moving from apartment to apartment, LeBron spending chunks of time with other relatives because his mom couldn’t feed him — scratch up the three bills for a pair of LeBron X shoes?
By “poor kids are gonna find a way”, I sincerely hope Doyel is referring to paper routes and mowing lawns. Because if he’s suggesting even for a second that James oughta be held accountable for inspiring criminal acts, let’s review for a minute some of the items hawked by other celebrity pitch-persons ;
Derek Jeter – Ford Focus ($15,650.00)
Michael Phelps – Omega Seamaster Watch ($3450.00)
Peyton Manning – Sony Bravia 55″ flatscreen ($1810.00)
Of course, no one has ever committed a crime or spent beyond their means in the pursuit of automobiles, jewelery or high-ticket appliances. I don’t know if you’ve seen the stats, but almost 99% of all violent crimes in this country are sneaker-related (source : Phil Mushnick, NY Post).
The New York Mets today announced a Kids Go Free ticket offer for the Mets-Rockies game this Thursday, August 23 at 1:10 p.m. at Citi Field. Up to three children 12 and under will get free admission with the purchase of regularly priced tickets.
For the Kids Go Free ticket offer available via phone at (718) 507-TIXX and in person at the Citi Field Box Office, fans buying one adult ticket will get up to three complimentary kids tickets. or the ticket offer available online at Mets.com/KidsFree, fans may purchase a Family Four Pack that includes four tickets for the price of two.
For the ticket offer available online at Mets.com/KidsFree, fans may purchase a Family Four Pack that includes four tickets for the price of two.
All tickets must be picked up at Citi Field the day of the game and children must be present.
For more information, contact the Mets Ticket Office at (718) 507-TIXX.
In which The Yonkers Cowboy asks the slightly-loaded question, “where is the Katie Couric of sports?” Congratulations, Doris Burke, Jackie MacMullan, Emma Span and Maggie Hendricks just to name four female members of the sports media off the top of my head. Your motives for working in your chosen field, your qualifications and your ability to “hold an audience” have been challenged by Talkers Magazine’s #98 SPORTS YACK HOST. Who could possibly know more about capturing the public’s imagination than a guy holding down that most coveted of satellite radio time-slots, the hours during which nearly all sane sports fans are watching or listening to a game?
I missed out on the first day of the sale, and by the time I arrived Sunday morning, it had descended into the discount round. Every item had two prices listed: Saturday’s outdated one and Sunday’s bargain closeout. A table that once was $400, now discounted to $150! Anthropomorphic rabbit salt and pepper shakers, now for the bargain price of $5! Women’s handbags, now $150!
So there was no yelling about Beasley, but there were whispers. Neighbors gossiped to workers about the time a sports car ended up wrapped around a tree last winter outside the house, and anyone who did know the identity of who had previously lived there couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow in nearly every room they entered. The entire thing posed so many questions: Why does Michael Beasley need a copy of the Physicians’ Desk Reference? Or a book of Ingmar Bergman screenplays? Or giant glass grapes? What use does Beasley have for a floral headboard? Why does he love tasseled pillows so much? Whose handbags are those?
There’s no way to answer those questions. There’s no way to guess what 10 percent of the items weren’t Beasley’s, because next to nothing in the house looked like anything you’d ever imagine the basketball player purchasing.
It’s always an exciting moment when an idol from years gone by steps out of the comfort zone and tackles the endurance test that is CBS’ granddaddy of car crash TV reality shows, “Survivor”.
But enough about Blair from “The Facts Of Life”. Apparently Jeff Kent going to compete, too. And while I’ve have to plead ignorance when it comes to the other contestants, it seems as though Kent has an unfair competitive advantage. Anyone who lockered near Barry Bonds for as long as Kent is already an expert in back-biting, recriminations and looking out for no. 1.
“Yeah, um, well, I mean, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the rules,” Giants CB Prince Amukamara told the Newark Star-Ledger’s Mike Garafalo about the above footage of teammate Jason Pierre-Paul throwing him head-first into an ice tub. “I mean, I’m not a rookie anymore, so I don’t know why I’m getting thrown in the tub. I know it’s all love.” Amukamara, an object of ridicule amongst teammates for some time, doesn’t seem to have the support of Col. Tom Coughlin, with the Giants head coach more concerned about a breach in confidentiality than anything smacking of hazing. From Newsday’s Tom Rock :
“I’m going to look into it, I’m going to talk to the parties involved,” Coughlin said. “As I’m understanding it, there were some parts of it that were inappropriate.”
Michael Boley, Bruce Johnson, Terrell Thomas and Chris Canty are visible in the video, which closes with Canty asking the camera operator — who he calls Steve and is presumably punter Weatherford — to see the footage.
Had it ended there, the incident likely would have gone unnoticed by Coughlin. But then Weatherford posted it on Twitter.
“No way anything that occurs within this family or within this group should be a part of any kind of social media aspect,” Coughlin said, sounding more irked that the video was posted than he was at the incident itself. “I’m going to address that strongly because I’ve spent a little time on that this preseason and I’ll look into it further.”
Esteemed sociologist Mike Golic has weighed in on this incident, pronouncing it “a non-story”, but helpfully adding, “hazing can sometimes get out of hand”. If the NFL ever needs help completing a disingenuous anti-bullying video, perhaps Golic and Coughlin can lecture tomorrow’s leaders on the importance of not getting caught.
Putting aside for a moment whether or not there’s anything advisable or dignified about goading Indians reliever Chris Perez into an infantile spat, perhaps it is time for someone in the Cleveland organization to have a word with with the effusive Perez about, fuck, I dunno, emulating Marino Rivera or something. Anything instead of this. Free expression’s great and everything, but if his best comeback to a heckler is, “what’s my salary?”, it’s very unlikely this will be the last time he’s picked on. (video swiped from The Big Lead)
On Sunday, for the 5th consecutive season, Major League Baseball is commemorating Civil Rights Day, with the event taking place tomorrow afternoon when the Braves host the Phillies. “There’s no city in all of Major League Baseball that represents both Major League Baseball combined with civil rights than Atlanta,” boasted Braves GM John Schuerholz yesterday, and he might be right. A more pointed question, however, might be whether an emphasis on civil rights is thoroughly undermined by ritual acts, logos and merchandise that demean Native Americans. MLB.com is flogging various caps and shirts to mark tomorrow’s occasion, and you’ll note while they’ve got the Braves wearing uniforms & caps of the Negro Leagues’ Atlanta Black Crackers today, Sunday’s swag seems to be remarkably tomahawk-free. The same can’t be said for the actions of the paying customers, however, who see no irony in attending something that’s meant to mark “Civil Rights Weekend” while Tomahawk chopping during Kyle Kendrick’s warm-up tosses in the last of the 6th inning. There’s also the unfortunate timing of Roger McDowell returning from suspensionjust in time for this weekend’s series, as if you needed any reminder that while toiling as one of the Braves’ most beloved players, John Smoltz famously compared same-sex marriage to getting hitched to Mr. Ed
If you’re thinking the Braves are in a no-win situation with me, you’re 100% right. There’s probably nothing they could do prior to this weekend that would’ve met with my approval short of repudiating the Chop (did the A/V dept. not receive a memo about this?) and asking the former Chief Noc-a-homa to hand out literature at the gate explaining how some peoples’ civil rights are every bit as precious as others’.
OK, for starters I’m attributing a quote the author never actually said. And the circumstances/career trajectory are rather different. But I just can’t resist! Y’see, after a pine-riding tenure at Manchester United, Michael Owen finds himself out of work, his prodigious goal-scoring for Liverpool over a decade ago consigned to history. At the age of 32, “Owen will always be revered as one of the more accomplished strikers England has ever produced,” writes the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor, however, “ there is also this lingering suspicion that, at some unspecified point, we are talking here about someone who has fallen out of love with football.”
No footballer wants to be accused of lacking devotion but it is a valid question when there are people within Owen’s circle who freely admit he wants to work because he needs money for his horse racing empire at Manor House Stables.
Owen’s priority is to remain in the north-west, just as he once used to travel by helicopter to Newcastle United’s training sessions. He has already stated that he would not consider dropping into the Championship, even though it would mean the chance to play regularly, injuries permitting. He was a bit-part player at Manchester United but said he preferred being at a big club to a mid-sized one even though it meant – and this is the bit that is not always easy to comprehend – no actual football on Saturday afternoon. He became a non?playing football player, partly because of his injury issues but also because he could not get in the team on form. And here’s the thing: he had no apparent issue with it.
The perception has grown that Owen is now so devoted to the horse-racing industry that football comes a poor second; not an afterthought, but certainly not the focus of the dreams that Dunphy once wrote about. There was something genuinely moving about that interview when Brown Panther, a horse he bred and owns, won the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot and Owen was moved to tears. It was just difficult to associate this with the guy we see when it comes to the old day job. Football? “I certainly wouldn’t take my kids to watch a match,” he volunteered during a Twitter discussion with Joey Barton a few days ago. What precisely does he think would happen to them?
The scheme began unfolding in July as Cabrera and his representatives scrambled to explain a spike in the former Yankee’s testosterone levels. Cabrera associate Juan Nunez, described by the player’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, as a “paid consultant” of their firm but not an “employee,” is alleged to have paid $10,000 to acquire the phony website. The idea, apparently, was to lay a trail of digital breadcrumbs suggesting Cabrera had ordered a supplement that ended up causing the positive test, and to rely on a clause in the collectively bargained drug program that allows a player who has tested positive to attempt to prove he ingested a banned substance through no fault of his own.
“There was a product they said caused this positive,” one source familiar with the case said of Cabrera’s scheme. “Baseball figured out the ruse pretty quickly.
MLB’s department of investigations quickly began asking questions about the website and the “product” — Where was the site operating from? Who owned it? What kind of product was it? — and quickly discovered that an existing website had been altered, adding an ad for the product, a topical cream, that didn’t exist.
For years, former California Angels righthander Jack Hamilton has dismissed the theory that his pitch that hit Tony Conigliaro on August 18, 1967 was a spitball. But one of Hamilton’s own teammates, shortstop Jim Fregosi, has a differing view.
“To me, it looked like it could have been a spitball,” said Fregosi, now a scout with the Atlanta Braves. “The way the ball rode in on Conigliaro, I thought it was a spitter.”
Hamilton, who has admitted he sometimes threw the illegal pitch during his professional career, adamantly denies the suggestion.
“I liked Jim and liked playing with him, but he wouldn’t know what I was throwing, said Hamilton. “I only threw a spitter once in a great while, when nothing else was working. I was pitching pretty good that night.”
“It was a fastball,” said Rodgers, who, like Fregosi, later managed the Angels. “The only people who would know for sure if it was a spitball are the pitcher and me. Everyone else would be guessing. And I’m telling you, it was not a spitball. It was just a fastball that rode in on Tony.”
“If you’re asking me if Jack Hamilton threw a spitball from time to time, yes, he did. But I caught a lot of guys who threw spitballs on occasion. I caught Lew Burdette at the end of his career, and he threw a spitter on occasion. George Brunet threw a spitter on occasion. Ryne Duren tried throwing a spitter, and what a disaster that was.”
Amnesty International boasts they’ve “partnered with CBGB to demand the release of feminist punk rock group ‘Pussy Riot”, though presumably they mean the feminist punk rock group, PUSSY RIOT (unless there’s a faux “Pussy Riot” who’ve also been imprisoned). Putting aside for a moment what it means for A.I. to “partner” with a registered trademark (as opposed to an actual functioning venue), did anyone consider the not-so-tiny irony? During it’s heyday, CBGB pulled the plug on performances by Missing Foundation and the Dwarves. That’s not say Pussy Riot wouldn’t have been welcomed with open arms, had they been knocking around the Lower East Side 30 years ago. They just would’ve had to watch all the plum gigs go to Rude Buddha.
Raiders DT Tommy Kelly (above, left) used words like “skittish” and “scared” to describe Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb (right) following Arizona’s 31-27 defeat of Oakland Friday night. Of Kolb (sacked 3 times while passing for just 22 yards), Kelly said, “Anytime anybody gets close to him he starts looking at the refs. As a defensive lineman you love a quarterback like that. He ain’t even trying to look at the routes no more. He is paying attention to us and you ain’t going to get nothing done like that.” Mindful he’s got a job to lose a carefully honed reputation, Kolb struck back in comments to Birds Blog’s Darren Urban :
“Scared? Scared of what?” Kolb said. “Taking a hit? I have never been afraid of anyone on the field and that will never change. That includes Number 93 (Kelly). There’s a fine line between holding in the pocket and trying to escape to make a play. Tommy Kelly is too clueless to know the difference. I don’t mind people criticizing my play. Don’t ever question my toughness.”
Indeed, simply because Kolb appears terrified under pressure and has accomplished, well, absolutely nothing during his professional career, is no reason whatsoever to say out loud what every defense player on the field is thinking (and drooling about).
(CSTB HQ Head Of Security Guinness celebrates National Black Cat Appreciation Day with something prescribed by a California physician)
USA Today reports Carlos Warner, a lawyer representing former Osama bin Laden translator Muhammed Rahim, has demanded his Guantanamo-based client receive a cat. Also, he’s pissed at LeBron. So he’s not that different than you or I.
In addition to sharing the news of (Majid) Khan’s cat, Rahim had another thought to share with his lawyer, who we should note, is from Akron, Ohio.
“Dear Mr. Warner!” he wrote in a separate freshly declassified letter. “Lebron James is very bad man. He should apologize to the city of Cleveland.”
Warner says Rahim’s sentiment about the NBA star who left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat reflects his client’s tribal values, in which loyalty is paramount and “betrayals are not tolerated or forgiven, although an honest apology from an offending peer is valued.”
Longtime thorn in the Wilpons’ side, Howard Megdal has some good news (sort of) and bad news (albeit unsurprising) regarding the financial fortunes of the Amazingly Destitute New York Mets. For starters, the Mets finally repaid a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball (several months late), though MLB executive vice president of economics and league affairs tells Megdal that a subsequent loan is unlikely (“I can’t imagine that we would be providing such assistance,”). “Teams that don’t need financial help, after all, wouldn’t have received any from Major League Baseball,” writes Megadal, adding, “the Mets are going to need additional money from somewhere.” From Megdal and Capital New York :
The $240 million they received from selling off minority stakes in the team back in March is already accounted for: at least $110 million to pay off a portion of what was a $430 million debt against the team due in 2014, $25 million back to M.L.B., $40 million to pay off a bridge loan from Bank of America that allowed the team to pay operating expenses last winter, at least $43.7 million in bond payments on Citi Field due in June and December, a revenue-sharing bill due to M.L.B. that totaled $20 million in 2011, $20 million in interest on a $450 million debt against S.N.Y. due in 2015, and at least $20 million in interest on the remaining $320 million or so in debt against the team.
Depending on the team’s losses this season, that puts the end of the $240 million right around the December payment against Citi Field. And ownership still faces the very same cash crunches in 2013 on a money-losing team, interest against the large debts on the team and S.N.Y., and Citi Field debt payments as well.
That leaves Wilpon and his partners with few options: essentially, hope the debtholders give him more time, even if he cannot make a payment on even the interest on his debts, or find another source to loan him money to pay the financing on his already outstanding debts.