On Monday, the Chicago Cubs parted ways with manager Dale Sveum after a pair of consecutive 5th place finishes and a combined 127-197 mark. Cubs GM Theo Epstein spoke of needing to find “that spark of a winning culture” after terminating the well liked Sveum, and one can safely conclude the former had determined Sveum was not the right guy to lead a club with ambitions beyond merely playing 162 games.
Conversely, the New York Mets today rewarded 64-year-old manager Terry Collins — he of the 225-261 record over the last 3 seasons — with a two year contract extension. Collins, who presided over a 50-50 finish this season despite losing a number of key players to injury for long stretches, said of the new pact, “if you’re going to manage, this is the place. There’s no better stage, no bigger stage than to manage here.”
And that’s more than little worrying. If Collins considers a half empty (at best) stadium the best of all possible venues, that might speak to the measured expectations of the manager and his paymasters. For all the talk of fielding something beyond a slightly glorified Triple A starting lineup next spring, Capital New York’s Howard Megdal calls GM Sandy Alderson fantasy payroll of $90-100 million just that, a fantasy that’s “floated away before the offseason even begins.”
ESPN.’s Adam Rubin reported on Friday that the Mets, regardless of whether they had a protected pick in next year’s draft, wouldn’t be going after free agents who received qualifying offers from their own teams. (Related: it was supposedly losing a first-round pick that kept the Mets from signing Michael Bourn last winter.)
The math on this is pretty simple. A qualifying offer, last year, was for one year, $13.3 million. It is likely to be similar this year. So any free agent who can reasonably expect a better contract on the open market than that, which covers the most productive of the free agents, will receive, and refuse, a qualifying offer.
The Mets, before the free agent game even begins, are saying they’re not in on any of them.
They were saying that in another way in Rubin’s Friday reporting about Shin-Soo Choo, who you might remember from a exciting-sounding report a few weeks ago as a likely target for the team. Sure, the Mets would sign Choo, the report said, but won’t offer more than the four-year, $48 million they nearly offered Bourn last year. Considering that comparable outfielder Hunter Pence just signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Giants this weekend, saying they’d offer roughly half that to Choo is just a fancy way of saying they won’t be signing him, either.
Even Alderson’s payroll from approximately 100 days ago is, according to Rubin’s reporting on Monday, no longer “sane.” The salaries coming off the books, the team holes, the likely free agents, none of these have really changed, except for an additional team problem to fix if Matt Harvey is unable to avoid Tommy John surgery. Yet somehow, Alderson’s own publicly defined plan from June is now crazy.
(Murphy’s, Memphis, 9/28)
Melbourne quartet CUNTZ are making their Austin debut tonight at the Mohawk, as they’re in the homestretch of a US tour in support of their amazing 2nd LP, ‘Solid Mates’ (Homeless). Since I’m no collection agent I won’t say who they’re indebted to, but if you’re the sort of person who has spent far too many hours listening to Grong Grong, Negative Trend, Venom P. Stinger or the U-Men, this is probably right in your wheelhouse. And if you’re not that sort of person, I’m not sure why I even bother knowing you (especially with your lack of a suitable wheelhouse). The show is free thanks to a Swedish vodka company, and given that it isn’t going head to head with the “M*A*S*H” finale or anything, you’ve few excuses not to attend.
Spray Paint are just back from a tour in which they spent a lot of time in tents or starting at mountains and shit. Ask them about it. Burnt Skull are playing, too. The Swedish vodka company has yet to explain to me if I’m being paid to DJ in airplane-size bottles of vodka or in Union Carbide Productions records, but I hope when I told them I’d gladly do it for free, they knew I was lying.
New York Daily News beat reporter Andy Martino recently came under scrutiny when his on-camera role for the Mets-owned SNY became all but impossible to ignore. That said, perhaps it’s Martino’s special bond with Mets ownership that allowed him to compose the following without thinking how dopey it looks for all concerned. To wit, the Mets inducted Mike Piazza (above, right) into the team’s Hall Of Fame earlier today, an honor that’s right up with the Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame. Said honor occurred despite Metal Mike taking shots at Mets P.R. director Jay Horowitz and oft-ridiculed genetic lottery winner, Jeff Wilpon in his less-than-tell-all autobiography.
The Mets’ Hall of Fame committee consists of Horwitz, former pitcher and longtime instructor Al Jackson, broadcasters Gary Cohen and Howie Rose, and MLB.com writer Marty Noble. According to people briefed on the discussions, the committee was mindful of Piazza’s failure to gain election into the Baseball Hall of Fame last January.
The most productive offensive catcher in baseball history, Piazza collected just 57.8% of the vote during his first year of eligibility (75% is required for induction). That showing was likely the result of unproven suspicion that Piazza used steroids, charges he denied in his memoir.
Beginning in January and continuing after Piazza’s book emerged in the spring, the Mets stood behind Piazza with a series of public gestures. After the Cooperstown vote, Wilpon issued a statement that read, in part, “The statistics he compiled during his career as a catcher were unmatched by anyone in the history of the game. We are optimistic one day soon Mike’s plaque, with a Mets cap, will be hanging in Cooperstown where it truly belongs.”
Later, some on the Mets’ Hall of Fame committee felt that it would be a strong show of support to elect Piazza before he landed in Cooperstown. The team wanted to make clear to Piazza that it considered him a Hall of Famer, regardless of how members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted.
“The (Mets) Hall of Fame committee recommended it,” Wilpon says now. “I agreed with it. Some of our fans asked for it and wanted it. It seemed like the right time for Mike and for us.”
Before this year, the timing did not feel right. Mets people and friends of Piazza generally describe the distance as a matter of a longtime star easing into private life, rather than acrimony between the sides.
…and he’s not quite Marvin Gaye, either. There has been some crazy speculation about the NFL’s attempts to gain a tiny foothold in the UK market, from Dino Costa doubting the NFL has nearly as many British fans as they claim , to Ken Belson suggesting sports fans in the UK are turned off by violence.
If they have any common sense at all, they’re deeply offended by this :
ESPN’s resident SEC chat maven Paul Finebaum (above) was quoted earlier today likening USC head football coach Lane Kiffin to a very successful pop star. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a pop star most adults have much regard for (“in some respects, Lane Kiffin is the Miley Cyrus of College Football. He has very little talent, but we simply can’t keep our eyes off of him,”). Adding fuel to suspicions Finebaum either has young neighbors or is simply a rockist, the Kiffin diss comes weeks after the broadcaster called Johnny Manziel, “The Justin Bieber of College Football”. With this train of thought in mind, I thought I’d give the overworked Finebaum a helping hand.
Western Michigan’s PJ Fleck is the Anton Newcombe of College Football.
Recently sacked NCCU head coach Henry Frazier III is the Chris Brown of College Football.
Bobby Petrino is the
John Edwards Bill Wyman of College Football.
OK, maybe you can supply the rest. Considering I got thru 3 without mentioning Scott Weiland once, I think I’m being pretty respectful to the coaching fraternity.
(above : Burleson, standing in my walk-in closet circa 1996)
As you’ve probably read elsewhere, Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson might miss the rest of the 2013 season after wrecking his 2009 Yukon SUV and breaking bones in his left forearm while trying to rescue pizza. On Friday, Burleson attempted to detail the accident to a media throng that included the Detroit Free Press’ Carlos Monarrez :
“…plugging in my phone, reaching for something and I had some pizzas sitting in my passenger’s seat. They started to slide. Hand full of pizza. Once I looked up, I felt I was close to a vehicle, tried to correct the car, overcorrected it and boom, right into the center median.”
Burleson said, from what he remembers, he might have swerved over from the far right late. His air bags deployed, his 2009 GMC Yukon was totaled and he was taken by ambulance to Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield.
He held on to the wheel with his left hand and the impact with the median resulted in two broken bones in his left forearm.
“Hopped out, sitting there and the police came,” he said. “And once I looked down, I saw there was blood on my shirt. Didn’t know where it came from, but it was from my chin. That was from air bag. The impact was from my hand gripping the wheel.”
“Hopped on the freeway and multitasking,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you. I’m the king of that. Well, I was.”
With all due respect to Mr. Burleson, the late Eddie Griffin remains the true King Of Multitasking.
Given that Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson stands a chance of collecting a third World Series ring in the very near future, you’d think his disposition towards his former employers wouldn’t register high on the rage meter, but that’s not how witnesses at AT&T Park in San Francisco put it. From the SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman :
In one of the oddest scenes you’ll ever see after a game, former Giants closer Brian Wilson walked to the Giants’ side of the field after tonight’s 3-2 San Francisco victory, as Giants players were shaking hands on the field, to rail on team president Larry Baer for not getting his 2012 World Series ring.
Wilson’s actions stunned Baer and Giants officials, who said they tried repeatedly throughout the season to meet with Wilson so the ring could be presented, and that he never responded, even when the Giants invited him to the ring ceremony during the first weekend of the home season.
“I don’t know why he decided to make a show of it and air his grievance tonight,” team spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said
File this one under, “Not Served At The Wing Bowl” ; Foobooz reports the Philadelphia Eagles are launching their own 2011 cabernet sauvignon, aka “Rollout”, sourced from the Napa Valley and Dry Creek. Which I guess sounds better than “sourced from the former ECW Arena”. It also sounds like a nicer sales pitch than, “we’re going to make Dick Vermeil cry”.
The wine will be on sale throughout the Philadelphia area at Pennsylvania liquor stores as well as at southern New Jersey retailers. The wine will also be available for purchase on the club level and in suites at Lincoln Financial Field. We’re sure it will go great with Marc Vetri’s North Philadelphia sausage cheesesteak.
Eagles Senior Vice President of Business, Ari Roitman says the bottle is “a nice way for fans to celebrate four generations strong of Eagles football whether they enjoy it with friends and family over dinner or save it as a keepsake.”
Putting aside for a moment whether or not Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez ought to dial it down a bit, what was up with the non-ejection of Braves catcher Brian McCann? By essentially allowing McCann to prevent an opponent from touching home plate for an etiquette violation, isn’t that tacit endorsement on the part of the umpiring crew? And given there’s nothing in the rule book about good taste, what rule did Gomez violate?
If a slow trot and/or a demonstrative celebration is considered justifiable provocation for a fight by MLB, why aren’t players being issued with warnings after hitting a home run? Y’know, a stern finger pointed towards the Braves dugout, just in case Freddie Freeman doesn’t bust it out of the box the next time he goes deep.