A day after Tampa’s Fernando Rodney attempted to use the head of Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for target practice, Rays skipper Joe Maddon called Rick Porcello’s plunking of Ben Zobrist, “absolutely uncalled for”. And summarily tackled the precise reason why the purpose pitch aimed at Zobrist was, y’know, called for, labeling Cabrera a crybaby. There’s no mystery which side the Tampa Tribune’s Martin Fennelly is on, suggesting Tigers manager Jim Leyland has gone a little overboard in protecting his superstar.
There is another term for what Rodney did to Cabrera. It is called “pitching.” Push the man off the plate, then give him one outside. Cabrera leads the majors with a .373 average and 81 RBIs. What does he want, anyway, the ball placed on a tee?
Leyland looks like a goofball. He’s old school, so he knew Rodney wasn’t trying to hit Cabrera in a tie game in the 10th with Prince Fielder up next. Sunday morning, Leyland said Saturday night was “history.” Guess it wasn’t.
It was an easy call for Leyland, given the choice between hitting Zobrist or explaining to his sensitive main man why he didn’t.
I guess all of this would be more palatable if two pitchers, Alex Cobb and J.A. Happ, hadn’t recently been hit in their skulls by line drives at the Trop.
While his New York Daily News’ colleague Mike Lupica calmly suggests former Patriots TE / accused murder Aaron Hernandez, “could be a kind of evil the NFL has never seen before”, even invoking Walter White in the process (“maybe Hernandez wasn’t worried about threats because he was the threat”), the Daily News’ sports media columnist Bob Raissman concerns himself with ESPN’s coverage of the case. Namely, newly hired analyst Ray Lewis and how his unique personal history might give him greater insight into Hernandez’ situation than say, Chris Berman. “If ESPN wants its current coverage of the Hernandez case to have more depth, it should call on Lewis to offer commentary,” argues Raissman, quickly adding the network promises they’ll do no such thing.
When Lewis does get in front of the camera, the Hernandez case will still be in the news. Lewis must speak candidly about it while reflecting on his own past. Tom Jackson, a man of conscience, must engage him in discussion or debate. Lewis cannot give the topic cursory treatment and direct his analysis strictly to on the field matters.
It’s a tricky proposition. Even if Lewis is willing to talk openly about Hernandez, and the NFL’s problems with guns and lawlessness, ESPN did not hire him to be its NFL “crime” reporter. He should not be stereotyped as such. Yet, realistically, when you look at the roster of ESPN’s NFL studio mouths, Lewis is the one with the most experience in those particular trenches.
It will be up to the producers to strike a balance. This problem is compounded by the fact that Lewis is a TV novice. The mechanics of the job won’t be second nature to him. Having the added pressure of commenting spontaneously on such a controversial topic will make his rookie season even tougher. He will have a great opportunity to quickly establish his credibility. Yet if he stonewalls in a venue where he’s paid to be candid, Ray Lewis will have a very short TV career.
Oh yeah, It’s a very tricky proposition. Much the way no one in Bristol is in a hurry to ingratiate themselves with Ray Lewis by suggesting, “hey, you know a thing or two about being killing, covering shit up, etc., right?” odds are equally slim Raissman or any of his print colleagues will approach Lewis with a similar question, even worded diplomatically, any time in the near future.
Matt Osbourne, best known as the O.G. Doink The Clown, but beloved for his stints in Texas and the Pacific Northwest as Maniac Matt Borne, passed away yesterday at the age of 56 in Plano, TX. Though the Doink gimmick was either a calling card or an albatross depending on your point of view, Borne’s worked alongside some of wrestling’s biggest names in his travels, including but not limited to Paul Ellering, Ted DiBiase, Randy Savage, Hacksaw Duggan, Curt Henning and Bret Hart. Troubles with the law and substance abuse derailed successful runs in Georgia and Stamford, CT respectively, but Osbourne continue to work the independent circuit, as the video above illustrates. His final public appearance came at a Massachusetts autograph show last weekend, alongside Marty Jannety.
Though I firmly believe any city that lost LeBron James and later acquired Nick Swisher is deserving of our compassion, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. In the tradition of WorldVision sending otherwise-unsellable San Antonio Spurs 2013 NBA Champions tees and hoodies to the children of Uganda, Bosnia and Rwanda, Cleveland’s WUJC has been shipped a rather large quantity of Bob Schneider’s latest album. (photo courtesy Doug Niemczura)
We’re two months past free agent Jason Collins’ public statement in Sports Illustrated, the abbreviated version being “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” Newly hired ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte considers the network’s coverage of Collins’ coming out, in particular, the “Outside The Lines” broadcast of April 29, in which hoops analyst Chris Broussard infamously railed against “adultery, fornication ..premartial sex between heterosexuals”, and described Collins (and ESPN colleague LZ Granderson) as persons “walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.” Calling the OTL episode, “lumpy and unframed”, Lipsyte recalls a 2007 ESPN.com column in which Broussard made no secret of his beliefs (“please don’t compare being homosexual to being black. I consider that insulting to blacks for a number of reasons. The fact that some blacks make the comparison themselves only shows how crushed our racial esteem has become because of America’s oppression”), and in a more recent conversation, Broussard is nothing if not consistent.
“The media in general, not just ESPN, is lopsided in its coverage,” he said. “It’s a cheerleader for the lifestyle and same-sex marriage and puts those who disagree in an unfavorable light. You can see it in the eye rolling and body language of so-called objective journalists. Born-again people are made out to be bigots and intolerant even though there are Neanderthals present on both sides.”
Broussard said he went on the show as “an objective journalist,” but, because it was OTL, he was ready to let the host lead him. As it turned out, Granderson led.
“I was satisfied,” Broussard said. “I would do it again. It was what I believed. It was not out of hate, not in a judgmental way. It was conventional Christian doctrine.
“I got a lot of support from players afterward, especially from Christians, who loved it. Others told me I had the courage to speak out. They said ‘You got big balls, brother, you the man.’”
Broussard called Collins the next night and they talked for about 10 minutes. “I wanted him to know I wasn’t trying to use his announcement for my own views. He seemed OK with it.”
(completely and utterly blameless)
Really, that bad? Actually, if you’ve heard many Astros games on KBME this season, the team’s futility on the field is being matched stride for stride by the analysis of Steve Sparks. With Houston new ownership pair Sparks with play by play voice Robert Ford, Houston Press’ John Royal accuses the club of “punishing the listeners with a broadcast that, hard to believe, makes one long for the days of Milo Hamilton drooling over attractive women, talking about how much better it was in the days of Hank Aaron and discussing anything but the actual game on the field.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Sparks sounds as if he’s a really nice guy, but he’s got that bland quality of the really nice guy with a voice made for television. At times it’s almost like you can hear Ford smacking himself in the head when he sets Sparks up for a perfect jewel of wisdom to only get a “yeah” in response. And his extended analysis is generally nothing more than empty cliches which are so worthless that it would have probably been better had he uttered just the “yeah,” though, to be fair once again, he can offer up some decent discussion when talking about pitching.
But then there are the fourth and seventh innings which tend to wipe out any of Sparks’s positives. This is when Ford generally steps back and lets Sparks handle the play-by-play while Ford throws out some thoughtful analysis. This is an often painful experience as Sparks stumbles through the play-by-play, attempting to describe the game action. It is unlistenable radio, and only the most dedicated of fans can power through it. It’s not all Sparks’s fault. He’s clearly trying, but there’s no improvement.
(absolutely not available from the Patriots Pro Shop)
On July 6 and 7, the Patriots are offering a free jersey exchange for any No. 81 Hernandez jersey purchased at the Patriots ProShop or online at PatriotsProShop.com. Fans can exchange their unwanted jersey for a new Patriots jersey of comparable value.
“We know that children love wearing their Patriots jerseys, but may not understand why parents don’t want them wearing their Hernandez jerseys anymore,” New England Patriots spokesperson Stacey James said. “We hope this opportunity to exchange those jerseys at the Patriots ProShop for another player’s jersey will be well received by parents.” The exchange is for jerseys available in the Patriots ProShop only and is limited to one per person. Click here for official rules and restrictions.
There is, of course, the possibility that Doc Rivers’ leap from the sinking ship that is the Boston Celtics was fully encouraged by Danny Ainge and ownership, mindful there’s one, possibly two seasons of tanking ahead of the C’s. Despite an 18 game losing streak on his resume, do you really need someone with Rivers’ qualifications (and colossal salary) supervising an attempt to go 10-72?
And with that in mind, congrats to Eye On Baseball’s Dayn Perry, for uncovering this ultra-rare photograph of Lawrence from Felt.
It’s entirely possible that the first thing Albert Pujols thinks of when he wakes up in the morning isn’t the circumstances surrounding his departure from St. Louis. For instance, he might be thinking about the circumstances surrounding Josh Hamilton’s departure from Texas. Either way, Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi would rather badger the Angels veteran first baseman about his ties to St. Louis than ask a truly provocative question (eg. “whose contract is more onerous, yours or Hamilton’s?”)
“There’s nothing bitter about it,” he said. “It’s tough that it didn’t work out. It happens. I wasn’t the first one it happens to do. It happened to Miguel Cabrera. It happened to Alex Rodriguez. It happened to Ken Griffey Jr. It happens to many players who play this game: At some time, they move along.
“I think the only thing I’m bitter about is the way the front office handled it a little bit. I think they should have handled it a little better. I’m bitter about that. They tried to make me look like I was a bad guy. But that’s OK. I’m a big boy. Besides that, I also understand there’s nothing I can do. Even if I could take it back, I’m happy where I am right now. My goal is to focus and concentrate on what I need to do to help this ballclub win.”
So what, exactly, did the Cardinals’ front office do?
“It’s something I don’t want to talk about,” he said. “They know what they did. I don’t need to talk about that.”
See? It’s complicated. One moment, Pujols says it is “tough” that he didn’t remain with the Cardinals. The next, his words recall the resentment his wife, Deidre, expressed when she told a St. Louis-area radio station that the team’s initial five-year offer (for more than $100 million) was an “insult.”
Pujols and the Cardinals must reconcile in time, because that is the only sensible path for either party. The Cardinals honor their heritage as well as any organization in baseball, with 90-year-old Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst a fixture in spring training to this day. A generation from now, the Cardinals will want Pujols to be at Busch Stadium for retellings of the ’06 and ’11 titles. And Pujols will realize soon — if he hasn’t already — that the ovations for him in Anaheim won’t be as heartfelt as they were in St. Louis.
Well, yeah. He hasn’t won anything in Anaheim. And who can really say if the Cards will be fixated on reconciling with Pujols in 20 years? Maybe they’ll be under different ownership and far too focused on building a statue to commemorate the achievements of Mike Trout (acquired as a free agent several years earlier).