Free agent P Dallas Braden — he of the 2010 perfect game and subsequent bat-wielding incident in a Stockton, CA park, took to Twitter earlier today with the following question :
Replied Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, “pretty big talk for a guy who took nearly $7 million from the Athletics for a grand total of three starts between 2011 and 2012.” Also, no word yet from Braden if he’d advocate drug testing for the CEO’s of Citi, Goldman Sachs or Bank of America.
…but they’re undermining serious journalism, too. At least that’s the reasoning of newly ensconced ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte, who likens the network’s comedic “This Is SportsCenter” commercials to “Brian Williams and Secretary of State John Kerry in the NBC copy room, scanning each other’s butts.”
Seeing athletes in different clothes and without their game faces is a pleasure of the watching the ESPYS. I particularly enjoyed watching Christian Ponder, the Vikings’ quarterback — ESPN’s Ron Jaworski has him rated No. 27 of 32 in his NFL QB rankings — apparently auditioning for his next career as a broadcast jock. Supported by the former Samantha Steele, an ESPN reporter and now also his wife, Ponder interviewed the amiable likes of Houston defensive end J.J. Watt (by throwing little footballs over his head). Ponder is actor-cute in that indie-film- and-TV mumblecore way. If he doesn’t make Jaws’ top 20 this season, he should scramble for a role on a cop show.
I also enjoyed watching athletes in the audience guffawing, often a beat late, at dumb — and sometimes mean — jokes by host Jon Hamm, often at Dwight Howard’s expense. The message here is that it’s all entertainment, folks, as sports should be, whether Adrian Peterson is running long on his acceptance speech, or just running long.
But the ESPYS offer another message, much like the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner: We’re all in this together. It’s fine for news executives, columnists and anchors to party with politicians and lobbyists, to get to know them as human beings, just as it is fine for ESPN executives, columnists and anchors, to party with athletes (and maybe not to feel like green ants.)
The concern, though, is that viewers might be getting the idea that they are the rubes at these circuses, that the jocks and the pols who show up can expect, in return, access and favors from the media.
(Weiland, possible last minute entry for the NYC mayoral Democratic primary)
Over the years, I’ve certainly had any number of unkind things to say about former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist/occasional sports blogger Scott Weiland. But I’ve never been nearly so cruel as to to compare Weiland to someone nearly as universally despised as Ryan Braun, an analogy the Huffington Post’s Tom Semioli seems to think is entirely appropriate (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Fortunately for Weiland, his chosen entertainment profession is that of a rock star, so he continues to ply his craft and earn money, even after he was fired from his regular gigs. The supposedly “Stoned” Temple Pilot and Velvet Revolver crooner is currently on a summer tour singing his former band’s iconic 1990s anthems with a new ensemble. Ryan Braun is professionally inactive: he cannot ply his craft nor earn money.
Most American rock fans don’t take offense when their favorite rock entertainers use drugs. Baseball fans purchased product in record numbers during the “steroid era” of baseball entertainment. And when steroid use shortens the careers of certain baseball entertainers — new baseball entertainers, some of whom use drugs, take their place. Same deal with rock stars: when one dies or a career fades, another band comes along with songs and stories often fueled by drug experiences. The games and the gigs continue to thrive. And so do the drugs.
In America, that’s entertainment!
Note: Scott Weiland’s latest dismissal from STP has not been officially attributed to drug use.
Though I’m a little embarrassed to be taking the bait…here goes! Braun is accused of taking drugs that enhanced his performances. Conversely, Weiland is widely presumed to have consumed drugs that hampered his ability to perform his professional duties for one reason or another. And Braun is temporarily inactive — his contract has not been voided, and if he’s able to produce in the future at anything close to the numbers he’s alleged to have compiled under the influence of PED’s, he’ll continue to earn a decent living.
But at least Semioli didn’t compare Weiland to this guy.
White Sox play-by-play voice Ken Harrelson was profiled in Tuesday’s New York Times by Ben Strauss, with the Hawk’s tendency to sneer at sabermetrics (“an approach that could alternately be described as endearing or absurd”) being the focal point of the article. While Strauss calls Harrelson’s pronouncements, “Internet catnip”, even a defender like Bob Costas admits, “he’s not Vin Scully or Ernie Harwell”.
Harrelson maintains that he does, in fact, like numbers and that sabermetrics does have a valued place in baseball, but that he would prefer it be a role much more limited that it is now and that too much deference is being paid in general to numbers crunching. He called its rise over the last decade “the biggest joke I’ve ever seen.”
“Look down there at a guy like Gordon Beckham,” he said, peering down at the White Sox’ second baseman. “If you got someone who gets a chance to take him out on a double play — like me — I’m not going to take him out, I’m going to take him out into left field.
“So if the shortstop bobbles the ball, and I have a chance to get him, he knows that. Gordon will get busted and he’ll take the hit. There’s no number to define that in a player.”
“If I’m listening to the White Sox play the Indians, I’m listening for Hawk to tell a great story about Charlie Finley,” said Costas, who narrated an MLB Network documentary about Harrelson. “Or the time he was sitting with Mickey Mantle at an L.A. hotel and Marlon Brando walks in.
“If a guy doesn’t know what WAR is but he’s got good baseball war stories, I’ll take the trade-off.”
Though the American Association’s St. Paul Saints – whose ownership group includes “Disco Demolition” night pioneer Mike Veeck and occasional thespian Bill Murray – are no stranger to unusual promotions (eg. 2008′s Sen. Larry Craig Bobblefoot), August 9th’s event is in somewhat stark contrast to the Faith Nights presented at minor and major league parks around the country. As City Pages’ Aaron Rupar explains, on Saturday, August 9 when hosting the Sioux City Explorers, the Saints will tell religion to take a hike.
That night’s game at Midway Stadium is sponsored by the Minnesota Atheists, so the Saints will drop the “S” from their jerseys and signs around Midway Stadium, thereby becoming the St. Paul Aints.
The players’ jerseys will later be auctioned, with some of the proceeds going to the Family Place Shelter in St. Paul, a local shelter where Minnesota Atheists volunteers prepare monthly dinners for families in need. So you see, they’re not all Godless jerks.
The next day, the Minnesota Atheists are hosting an American Atheists regional conference at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for atheists to share our light-hearted, friendly nature,” Eric Jayne, president of Minnesota Atheists, said in a press release. “As a baseball fan and a local atheist leader, I am excited to partner with the St. Paul Saints in our efforts to increase atheist camaraderie and dispel negative stereotypes about atheists in the public eye.”
….or Carmelo Anthony. via Buster Olney, here’s a clip of the late George Scott being beaned by Dennis Martinez. Though I fondly recall both players’ contributions to the game, I must confess, I didn’t remember Martinez being nearly that fast getting off the mound.
CSTB’s Greatest (?) Hits : If That Toilet Could Talk (RIP Manhattan Bar Often Populated By Trendy People You’d Fucking Hate)
(Endless Boogie, Max Fish, October 2010)
(EDITOR’S NOTE : Max Fish, Max Fish, the place so nice they made plans to close it twice. This time, however, it’s for real, and in advance of tonight’s finale for an East Village holdout that’s just about done holding out, here’s a 2010 eulogy that fulfills the all-important criteria of helping me avoid writing a new one. – GC)
It was reported earlier this week that Ludlow Street’s venerable Max Fish was closing at the end of January, as owner Uli Rimkus was facing rather excessive demands for a rent increase somewhat reflective of the neighborhood’s currently glitzy status. Full disclosure time : I briefly rented a small apartment from Rimkus situated on the 2nd floor above the bar….and not-so-briefly did extensive damage to my brain cells and liver on the ground floor during the early 1990′s.
People often complain about Max Fish paying host to hordes of tourists, rich kids, bridge & tunnel types, lame scenesters, etc….and the same complaints were voiced, repeatedly, in 1992, too. I’ve not spent enough time there recently (occasional visits aside) to comment w/ authority about contemporary Max Fish, but for a longish stretch,the bar was an epicenter for much of the L.E.S.’ arts/alcoholism scene. Quality humans worked there, and much of the clientele was a-ok, too. If you could stand a noise rock version of “Cheers” (the likes of Michael Duane, Harry Druzd and Carlo McCormack had far more wisdom to impart than George Wendt), it was an ok place to squander a paycheck. Many friendships were made by the Fish pinball machines, jukebox, or, uh, unisex bathrooms. Nearly as many friendships ended, too. I’ll never forget the retarded 3am arguments over slights real or imagined, the ridiculous characters from the block (or around the world) that would stagger thru in the days long before anyone knew or cared who the Strokes were. Though Max Fish’s patrons certainly knew who Bob Dylan was the December night he stood in the doorway for what seemed like an eternity before opting for another bar. And while Max Fish wasn’t a music venue per se (the adjoining Pink Pony did, however, host performances for a while), there were a few semi-historic exceptions to the rule, including a monumentally loud Bailter Space show and a Workdogs w/ Jon Spencer performance in 1999 that featured the unlikely visage of Genesis P. Orridge making like Bob Colby several feet away from the band.
Nostalgia sucks, as do old fuckers telling you things were cooler or smarter back in the old days. They weren’t. That said, back in the pre Todd P.-era, Ludlow St. was very much the HQ for an undefined, very loud music/social scene, and Rimkus and her colleagues deserve much credit for their hospitality and lending some sense of community, however loose, to a rather chaotic period.
SB Nation’s David Roth Suggests That Perhaps Just This Once, Isiah Thomas Not Be Permitted To Land On His Feet
The expression, “inexplicably employed” is not one I’ve used on many prior occasions. I’ve not used it in relation to Dino Costa, David Samson, Luke Winkie, Darren Heitner or Anton Newcombe, even if the thought has crossed my mind a few times. But with all due respect for the myriad atrocities committed by the roster above, none of them would seem to bring nearly the same anti-Midas touch to the workplace as former Knicks President Isiah Thomas.
Thomas’ slow-motion crash in New York nearly overshadowed his exceptional playing career, though luckily for Zeke, relatively few observers paid much attention to his subsequent struggles at Florida International University. That the allegedly charming Thomas is ever under consideration for new gigs (some of which he’s actually hired for) is hard to fathom, or as former CSTB contributor David Roth puts it, “if it makes a certain amount of sense for the NBPA to seek the opinion of a Hall of Famer with a long history in NBA front offices, it makes notably less when that person is Isiah Thomas.” From Roth and SB Nation :
This is a man who, if hired to run a Panera, would be serving wet loaves of bread stuffed with sticks and lit firecrackers within weeks, and charging $11.99 for them. The dining room would be overrun by hostile weasels within hours of opening, and he would give a smiling press conference claiming that the weasels were phase one in some “big changes we’re really excited about.” It would be amusing until someone would get hurt, and someone usually does when he’s involved.
We must presume that the people making decisions for the NBPA know all this, and so can probably assume that Thomas is a long-shot for this gig. There are still people in the NBA who worked for Isiah Thomas, survivors to tell the tale. There is the fresh memory of what he’s like, and what happens to things he runs; anyone can Google “Isiah Thomas Anucha Browne Sanders” and read what pops up. It took Thomas less than three years to utterly destroy the Continental Basketball Association; he ran Madison Square Garden’s executive offices as a grope-y gulag, all paranoia and flubbiness and denial. It’s a matter of record, and it should be enough.
Having compiled a 123-122 record in 17 years of oft-traveled big league pitching, Greg Swindell is eminently qualified to criticize Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig. Trouble is, he’s been doing so for a few weeks now. Shortly after Puig dispensed of the Reds with an 11th inning, game-winning HR and subsequent slide into home plate at Chavez Ravine, Swindell took to Twitter with the following :
I’m gonna assume that Cincinnati reliever Curtis Partch has totally earned his stripes, given that he wasn’t even standing on the mound to witness Puig’s egregious violation of baseball etiquette. Not only does Puig need to worry about offending journeyman pitchers who don’t pay his salary or work for his organization, he’ll have to demonstrate greater sensitivity towards mop up guys who are already in the parking lot by the time the ball lands.