04.28.13

Blair : Grapes’ Wrath Towards Female Reporters Is Archaic, Nonsensical

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 3:07 pm by

“Hockey Night In Canada”‘s Don Cherry used a portion of last night’s “Coach’s Corner” regular season finale to come to the defense of Chicago’s Duncan Keith, who earlier in the week told a female reporter she was unqualified to weigh in on his assault of Daniel Sedin. Of Cherry’s comments (“they should not be walking in when naked guys are walking in”). the Globe & Mail’s Jeff Blair writes, “our National Daft Old Uncle has gone and done it again.”

The reason women have access to locker rooms, dressing rooms or clubhouses is simple: it allows them the same freedom that male reporters enjoy and, as a result, allows female reporters who wish to earn a living as sportswriters to do so. I mean, that’s it. Nothing more; nothing less. And as someone who, with all due respect to Don Cherry, spends much more time in locker rooms and the like than he does, I can put the old fool’s mind to rest: unless it’s one of the dumpier sports facilities out there – such as Fenway Park, for example – players usually shower and change in separate areas. Often, players are either in sweatsuits or street clothes when they are in areas where they do post-game interviews. If they have showered, they avail themselves of this new invention – it’s called a towel, Don – and the skilled ones among them have mastered the art of slipping on skivvies underneath the towel so prying eyes don’t get a sight of their unmentionables. It’s just not that difficult to maintain a sense of decorum.

It’s odd hearing a puck-head talk the way Cherry talks, because the truth is the NHL and NBA were the two sports that were at the front of the pack in ensuring equal access, which is the way it should be. There may be a time when all reporters – male and female – stop accessing to dressing rooms, likely because the nature of sports writing and sports journalism evolves to the point where it is no longer necessary. But as long as male reporters are allowed in, so should women have the right of equal access. Only Don Cherry could start a fire out of this much damp wood.

04.27.13

Psych 101, With Dr. Bill Lee

Posted in Baseball at 8:37 pm by

Though he’s not currently under the employ of the ballclub he’s most commonly associated with,  Bill Lee claims that from time to time, he’ll chat with various members of the Red Sox taxi squad in Pawtucket, RI (“I’m like a horse whisperer, I can break bad habits.”).   Mass Live’s Evan Drelich quizzed the Spaceman about his diagnosis of Daniel Bard and the enigmatic Alfred Aceves (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

Bard’s problem is breathing, as Lee sees it. Maybe a run from the highest mountain in Maine, Mount Katahdin, to the ballpark would help, Lee said with a laugh.

“He wasn’t picking up home plate, he didn’t want to let go of the ball,” Lee said. “He was having an anal retentive moment, which goes back to Otto Rank and (Sigmund) Freud. When you start going back to your glove, you’re going home to mama. You want to break that habit. It’s a breathing problem.

“Correct his breathing, correct his pitching. Got to work from that principle first. And I told ‘em to take him to Mount Katahdin and run him all the way back to the ballpark. By the time he got back, he wouldn’t have a breathing problem.”

It was a bad day,” Lee said of Aceves’ final outing with the Sox before his demotion. “It was just a bad day. He didn’t want to pitch, Oakland was all in their hoodies and everything else and they came out to play and the Red Sox didn’t. And it was a bad day and he didn’t cover first base and then he blamed no runs. He just had a bad day. We all have bad days. But he’s still a very good pitcher, and a very good long man.

“He’s a very sensitive guy and we had a tragedy in this town. Ballplayers are like canaries in a mine shaft. Miners used to take them down, and if there was any whiff of gas, a canary would die and allow the miners to get out. He’s a sensitive guy, very emotional. But he can be tough and durable. We’re all like that.”

Fuck With Russell Westbrook, You’ll Have To Deal WIth This Guy

Posted in Basketball, twitter twatter at 8:07 pm by

(image taken from Everyjoe.com)

Well, one of ‘em, anyway. Following OKC G Russell Westbrook’s season-ending injury — widely blamed on Houston’s Patrick Beverely —- a Thunder ballboy (above) is accused of issuing death threats via Twitter. From the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen :

Mitchell Brown sent a tweet that threatened, “Patrick Beverly (sic), I’m coming to kill you.” He sent another using Beverley’s Twitter handle; “@pavbev21 I’m coming to kill you.”

Capt. Dexter Nelson, a spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department, said officers in conjunction with the Houston Police Department and the NBA are looking into what he described as “Internet threats.”

Nelson could not elaborate on the matter, state law prohibiting authorities from commenting on a juvenile case unless an arrest is made. In addition, he said the department does not comment on suspects.

Thunder spokesperson Matt Tumbleson said, “We do not condone his comments. He works game nights on a voluntary basis. We will handle this matter internally.” Shortly after Thunder officials were told of the tweets, Brown deleted them with an apology:

“Yesterday I posted something completely Inappropriate and I need to apologize. I was out of line and it will not happen again.”

He later removed that tweet and instead said his account was hacked.

04.26.13

Tharold Simon Accomplishes The Near-Impossible, Makes The Honey Badger Seem Like A Low-Risk Pick By Comparison

Posted in Gridiron, The Law at 9:53 pm by

LSU CB Tharold Simon (above, right) was projected to be a middle-round selection during the in-progress 2013 NFL Draft, however, showing an uncanny knack for the dramatic, the Eunice, LA native managed to drum up some publicity between Thursday and Friday’s draft sessions. KATC’s Ian Auzene details Simon’s exciting night out in his hometown :

According to police records, Tharold Simon’s car was blocking Beulah Street when an officer asked him to move it. According to the report, Simon told the officer, “I own Eunice,” and “I’m gonna buy these projects and you are gonna be mine,” (sic) before finally moving his vehicle. The officer noted in the report that Simon spun his wheels and “backed the vehicle in an aggressive manner” and turned his radio “all the way up” while moving his car. The report also says Simon told the officer that “the mayor was on [his] side” and that the officer would be fired if he wrote a ticket. Simon is charged with public intimidation, resisting an officer, and unnecessary noise violation. He was released on bond.

Simon, a graduate of Eunice High School, is expected to be selected in the middle rounds of this weekend’s NFL Draft. Eunice city officials are scheduled to proclaim today “Tharold Simon Day” during a ceremony this evening. Eunice Mayor Rusty Moody says the ceremony will go on as planned.

Because Items From Don Cherry’s Wardrobe Were Off-Limits : Canada’s Lame Gift To Obama

Posted in Basketball, politics, We Aren't The World at 8:08 pm by

(Sonny Weems, linchpin of a 28-54, lottery-bound team, contemplating how much an American President could get for his autograph)

Earlier today, the White House released an extensive list of gifts received by President Barack Obama from foreign governments since 2011. It’s a diverse collection of items including but not limited to South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak’s autobiography, ‘The Uncharted Path’, and, from France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy, a “tall Plexiglas sculpture, entitled Wrapping Flag Candy USA , depicting an upright Tootsie Roll with an American flag patterned wrapper.” Neither presentation, however, is nearly as questionable as the following, detailed by the Globe & Mail’s Tu Thanh Ha :

Since Mr. Obama is known as a Chicago Bulls fans, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered him a basketball, signed by the 2010–2011 Toronto Raptors.

The ball was presented in a plastic display case, inside a green leather-bound box with Mr. Harper’s seal on the top.

Jeffrey Loria Might Be Dishonest, Craven & A General Embarrassment To Humanity, But Please Don’t Call Him Meddlesome

Posted in Baseball at 2:48 pm by

Earlier today, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan accused Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria of ordering rookie skipper Mike Redmond to flip the scheduled starts of Jose Fernandez and Ricky Nolasco in Tuesday’s doubleheader. If you’re wondering what difference it would make, Passan suggests Loria was attempting to curry favor by letting Fernandez start in warmer weather, while presumably, Loria has already given up on Nolasco, who recently requested a trade.

Reached for a reply by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Loria — not hooked up to a polygraph at the time — denied Passan’s claims.

“I had nothing to do with the decision,” Loria said. “I was informed of the decision by the baseball department. I told them it was their call.

“I don’t make decisions on who to pitch and when, how to go about it — that’s not my role. Sometimes they call me and tell me what they’re doing. But I don’t call them up and say, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ That’s not true.”

Loria, an art dealer, said he was discussing his primary business at the time he received a call about the pitching changes from general manager Michael Hill.

“I was engaged in discussions in the world about pictures, as in paintings, not pitchers, guys who can or can’t paint the strike zone.”

04.25.13

Picked From The Unemployment Line By Kindly Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown Is Finally Free….

Posted in Basketball at 11:46 pm by

….to shit all over Mitch Kupchak.   You might recall last Autumn when the Lakers jettisoned Brown in favor of Mike D’Antoni, the former had not little negative to say about Kupchak, the Buss family, Kobe, Dwight Howard, Dyan Cannon, etc. , and was seen loading up on Chick-fil-A without hours of his dismissal.  Fast forward this week to Brown’s rehiring in Cleveland, however, and the veteran head coach is suddenly free to dish the dirt on the Lake Show’s dysfunctional family business (“I mean, I take a team without a training camp into the second round of the playoffs and then I’m gone…could you imagine what they would have said if I was the coach with Kobe playing all of those minutes?”)  From the LA Sentinel’s Kenneth Miller :

When told that I didn’t think the Lakers would hire a Black coach and was surprised to see that he accepted the job, Brown responded: “I kind of thought about that. I felt they were going to pull out all of the stops to doing everything to win a championship, but that was not the case.” During his first season, the strike-shortened season of 2010-2011, Brown didn’t have the benefit of training camp with a roster that included Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom. Then one day in December, he was called into general manager Mitch Kupchak’s office.

“So, I go up there and he tells me that we just traded Lamar Odom! My mouth just dropped. He explained to me that it was for salary cap reasons, but nothing that he did after that justified anything to do with the salary cap,” Brown said.

Brown said that he wasn’t even consulted or asked what he thought before the trade went down.

“I mean, how can I not be told in advance of losing one of my primary pieces, a guy who was ‘Sixth Man of the Year?’”

Mets’ Jordany Valdespin Receives An Unusual Bonus For His Heroics

Posted in Baseball at 5:54 pm by

Jordany Valdespin’s 10th inning HR with the bases juiced Tuesday night was the Mets’ first walk-off grand slam since Kevin McReynolds hit one in 1991. And if you thought Valdepin’s teammates would stop at a mere shaving cream pie to acknowledge the milestone, think again.  Via the auspices of the New York Daily News’ Andy Martino, here’s an overview of Valdespin’s many crimes against baseball etiquette, including claims of “he’s an idiot” and “he’s a douchebag” from adoring teammates.

Rookies and sophomores are not supposed to pound their chest after hitting triples in the late innings of blowouts.  They are not supposed to ask veterans for money for clothing by saying, “I’m a rookie, you have to buy me a suit.”

They are not supposed to show up on the team bus in an undershirt. Or declare themselves “the man” after their first big league homer.  Or fail to run out popups all through the minor leagues. Or be suspended twice in one winter ball season for insubordination. Or miss the cutoff man often. All of these things, Valdespin has done.

From his perspective, he is just being himself, having fun, enjoying life, refusing to conform to the game’s conservative norms (many of which, he’s right, they’re stupid), while insisting that there is no real issue.  “We’re a family,” he said. “We play hard every day. We have young guys in here. We have veteran guys in here. We have everybody on the same page.”

The veterans see it differently; they view it as their responsibility to teach young whippersnappers how to act like big leaguers.  There are a lot of disconnects at play here — cultural, generational, personality — but both sides have shown incremental movement this year toward one another.

“It’s getting better,” one player said Wednesday. “Last year he would get mad when we tried to help. We’re like, ‘we’re trying to help. You’re a part of this team.’”

The Atlantic League – Spearheading The “Let’s Get This Lousy Game Over With” Movement Since 2013

Posted in Baseball at 5:22 pm by

Barring new comebacks for Jose Offerman or Carl Everett, the following news might be the independent Atlantic League’s biggest contribution to baseball this year. Earlier today, the league “a season long experiment to explore ways to reduce the average time of a nine-inning Atlantic League baseball game and to improve the pace of professional games regardless of length”.  In other news, Steve Traschel will not be pitching in the Atlantic League this season.

Elements of the 2013 Atlantic League Experiment Include:
Strike Zone – The Strike Zone defined in the Major League Official Rules will be called by Atlantic League umpires in 2013. In practice, despite the rulebook definition, professional baseball pitches above the belt are generally called a “ball” these days. In the past, the Official Rules Strike Zone was called and the Atlantic League would like to attempt to measure the effect of calling the existing rule on pace of the games. The objective of enforcing the Rule Book Strike Zone is to see if this will reduce number of pitches in a game and to speed up play by encouraging hitters to put balls in play earlier in the count.
Hitters – Existing Rule 6.02 prohibiting hitters intentionally leaving the batter’s box and delaying the game will be enforced. Managers and umpires shall strongly encourage hitters to be ready to bat, and hitters shall minimize time between pitches. Hitters are not to step out of the batter’s box after every pitch. Public Address announcers must stop player walk out music once the hitter enters dirt area around home plate. After a warning, umpires may call a ‘Strike’ for additional violations.
Pitcher Warms Ups – Existing Rule 8.03 which states “Pitchers will be allowed eight (8) warm up pitches, but shall not consume more than one (1) minute” will now be enforced, as will Existing Rule 8.04 which states “when the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball.” After a warning, each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ‘Ball’.
Time between Half Innings – Existing Rule 9.05 regarding “keeping the game moving” will be enforced. Umpires and Official Scorers shall monitor time from the making of last out until first pitch of next half inning is thrown. Goal is 90 seconds or less instead of the existing 120 to 150 seconds.
Frequent Visits to the Mound – During the first half of the 2013 season, the Atlantic League will also be evaluating whether modifications to the rules regarding mound visits by the manager, coaches, and position players should be added to the experimental program. While this evaluation is being made, managers have been requested to attempt to minimize mound visits and, where feasible, make pitching changes between innings rather than during an inning.
Game Reports – Within 24 hours following the end of any nine inning game that exceed 2 hours 45 minutes, a written report describing what events caused the game to exceed the 2 hour 45 minutes must be sent to the League Office, by each Manager, Umpires, home club General Manager and Official Scorer.
Enforcement – This experimental program is a cooperative effort involving all Atlantic League players, Managers, Coaches, Umpires and Front Office. The League expects voluntary compliance and does not anticipate needing enforcement actions that might disturb the flow or integrity of the Game. As data is collected and evaluated adjustments to this program may be made from time to time.

04.24.13

The Sultan Of Surly’s Sign – Stolen Or Simply Sequestered?

Posted in Baseball at 11:11 pm by

It was reported earlier today that a plaque on AT&T Park’s left field wall marking Barry Bonds’ 755 career home runs had gone missing.  Not to get all Alex Jones on you, but something stinks to high heaven about this. Say, for instance if the Mets’ giant statue of Mrs. Jeff Wilpon (honoring her role in the Kaz Matsui acquisition) suddenly disappeared.  Would you be naive enough to believe this was a simply oversight?  The San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler is just as cynical as yours truly, wondering if Barry’s plaque going AWOL, “part of a bigger plot to erase the memory of the famed (or infamed) slugger?”

I contacted Staci Slaughter, the Giants’ genial and efficient “Senior Vice President, Communications and Senior Advisor to the CEO.”

Slaughter got back to me quickly and said she was on the case. Early Monday she e-mailed  me that the shield had disappeared “sometime last week,” and, “We are in the process of making a new one to replace it.”

Now the mystery is what happened to the shield.

Did Bonds sneak into the park and make off with the shield? Did a notorious gang of local wharf rats mistake the shield for a giant cookie? Did the seagulls carry it off?

Hard to imagine a fan or fans making off with the shield. It’s about six feet high, and has to be pretty heavy. First  they’d have to pry it off the wall, possibly using a ladder to reach it. Then they’d have to sneak it out of the ballpark. Good trick.

As the cops say on TV, looks like an inside job.