(image courtesy No Mas)
Earlier today when the deadline-dealing New York Mets finally managed to land the big bat that eluded them Wednesday night, chances are you learned about the transaction via any number of platforms that were either available in 1975. Back in the bad old days, of course, persons like myself were often found blowing off family functions, shitty dates or Freedy Johnson record release parties to pump quarter after quarter into a disease-bearing payphone in the hopes of learning whether or not Terry Blocker was ever gonna get up off the ground.
(OK, I never actually attended a Freedy Johnson record release party. But I’m sure someone did and cut out of the room at the first available opportunity.)
On Friday, Newsday’s Neil Best interviewed a number of Sports Phone fixtures, amongst them Mets radio voice Howie Rose (“For me it was like anchoring the ‘CBS Evening News’…when you’re 21 and want more than anything to be on the air and someone says, ‘I heard you,’ that is the same sort of tonic a comedian must get when he gets on stage and hears a roar”), Devils announcer Steve Cangialosi (“I was a 20-year-old kid, and I probably knew more about Biff Pocoroba than any man should,”), and most awkwardly, Mr. Center Stage himself, Michael Kay :
The service was big business, but for the young (mostly) men in the offices, there was plenty of time for fun, too. P.J. Clarke’s was downstairs. So was Michael’s Pub, where Woody Allen appeared regularly on the clarinet. Runyon’s was nearby, too.Ken Samelson, a longtime staffer who later helped edit the Baseball Encyclopedia, recalled colleague Bob Grochowski — a/k/a Bobby G — dumping a bottle of Champagne on him during a raucous night at P.J. Clarke’s after the Mets won the ’86 World Series.
“Fordham didn’t have frats, so as close as we got to a frat is we’d go to Sports Phone and watch games and watch other things that maybe were unmentionable when you were waiting for the West Coast games to end,” John Giannone said.
Kay, 54, recalled once bringing sisters to the office on a double date with Giannone. “We made out with them at Sports Phone at like one in the morning,” he said. “We had the codes to get in. We didn’t have apartments or anything, so that’s what we did.”
Charlie DeNatale recalled Kay as a novice whom the veterans would send out for coffee. “Nobody wanted to put him on the air because he had a really awkward sounding voice,” DeNatale said.
(EDITOR’s NOTE : from time to time, Bronx baseball executive Randy L. is kind enough to visit CSTB to offer his thoughts on the issues of the day, sporting and otherwise. In the wake of Wednesday night’s incredible scenes at Citi Field — in which a rumored deal for Milwaukee OF Carlos Gomez left Mets IF Wilmer Flores visibly weeping on camera — Randy offered, no he insisted on having his say – GC)
Greetings to all members of the Yankee Universe…and the dateless, friendless, often jobless losers who can only fantasize of someday entering its ranks. You know, I’m well aware MLB’s Trade Deadline represents a last gasp opportunity for some of the game’s more desperate franchises to knock the Yankees off our lofty perch, but once Toronto’s new acquisitions realize they’ve renounced their American citizenships (and any eligibility for Obamacare), I’m pretty sure morale in the Blue Jays clubhouse is going straight into the toilet. So even with our own oversexed GM doing little more than bringing Dustin Ackely into the fold (GET THAT PLACQUE IN MONUMENT PARK READY, CASHMAN), I’m not at all worried.
Which is to say, my calm, collected demeanor should be seen as being in stark contrast to that of our crosstown rivals, who once again managed to thoroughly embarrass themselves by letting the sensitive, young Wilmer Flores twist in the wind last night while negotiating a trade for Carlos Gomez that would ultimately fall apart on the advice of Mets team doctors.
That’s right, the same Mets team doctors that routinely tell guys with serious concussions to get on airplanes. The same collection of quacks that couldn’t keep Jose Reyes on the field and now seem to be bringing the same expertise to what’s left of David Wright’s career. Why wouldn’t you listen to those guys?
It’s the cruel, irresponsible handling of Mr. Flores that I find most objectionable, however. For Mets officials to act as though they had no idea what was being reported on Twitter Wednesday night is beyond disingenuous. This is like asking the public to believe the entire Mets front office staff isn’t following my Tweets with breathless anticipation.
You won’t catch me showing that sort insensitivity to our players in pinstripes. Anytime there’s even the slightest hint of negativity on social media directed at our former Third Baseman / current Designated Hitter, I am the first to bring it to Alex’s attention, be it via a direct message, a text, a phone call, maybe even an item posted to the Nu Stadium jumbotron. Some might call this overkill, harassment, even. But that’s the kind of executive I am. Possibly twice as magnanimous as I am handsome.
Were Wilmer Flores a player under Yankee contract, not only would I have personally made sure he knew of a pending deal as early as possible, but I’d have already made arrangements to have his locker cleaned out and belongings placed in a cardboard box on River Ave (or possibly put up for sale in our impressive Clubhouse Shop located directly behind home plate at the New Stadium).
I dislike being the one to say that my way of dealing with such an issue is the only way. So say it yourself. Out loud. Several times while staring directly into my eyes, wishing, praying that your sad sack, financially bereft ballclub had a decisive, paternal figure like me calling the shots.
DREAM ON MOTHERFUCKERS,
Minneapolis’ Suicide Commandos — one time Pere Ubu labelmates and the trio that eventually propelled Steve Almaas to NYC’s Beat Rodeo — saw their 1978 classic “Burn It Down” covered in 2011 by Austin’s Cruddy, and followed that with some reunion action in 2013. More recently, however, the band have turned their attention to something a little unexpected ; they’ve adopted a stretch of highway in Minnetonka, MN. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Chris Riemenschneider :
“We certainly made a big enough mess around there in our younger years, it’s time we made up for it,” laughed Suicide Commandos guitarist/co-vocalist Chris Osgood, who approached Hennepin County staff on a whim a few months ago when he saw that particular stretch of road was up for adoption. “I’m frankly surprised they let us.”
Osgood and his bandmates, Dave Ahl and Steve Almaas, mean business. They plan to patrol their newly adopted stretch of road for the next two years, as the Adopt-a-Highway program dictates. “We have our green reflective safety vests now and everything,” Osgood said. “It might be our next album cover.”
It’s not just a random stretch of road for the Commandos. Considered Minnesota’s first punk-rock band – they recorded for Mercury Records in the late-’70s and mentored Hüsker Dü, the Suburbs and the Replacements — Osgood and Ahl spent three wild years living in a rundown house near the road (aka McGlinty Rd.), which they dubbed the Utopia House. It had no running water two of those years but was good enough for rehearsing and crashing — and was only $30/month to rent.
Colorado swapping the possibly-prohibitive contract of SS Troy Tulowitzki for the absolutely-prohibitive contract of SS Jose Reyes (plus, y’know, actual pitching assets. 3 of ‘em!) can be debated in baseball terms (especially Tulowitzki’s ability to stay on the field), but in the view of Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, the Rockies were something less than honorable in the way it all went down (“a fitting end to a multiyear trade-him-or-don’t saga”).
Fearful Tulowitzki requesting a trade publicly would make the Rockies look weak, the team asked him to play good soldier, which he obliged, according to club sources. The organization’s dysfunction, from the power struggles between former co-GMs Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett to a hands-on owner in Monfort whose public comments about players often rubbed them the wrong way, was all too evident, not just to Tulowitzki but the team’s young core of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, D.J. Lemahieu and Corey Dickerson.
As Rockies players said to one another, Monfort could have flown into Chicago, informed Tulowitzki in person, told him this was a deal they couldn’t pass up. That didn’t happen, and it’s the sort of thing that sears itself into the minds of the young and impressionable, the sort of players around whom Colorado wants to build a winner.
Off Tulowitzki went, out the clubhouse’s back door, fittingly enough. The Rockies had done him just like that, backdoored him and floored him, 10 years gone just like that, a reminder that spoken agreements are only as good as the people doing the speaking. In the end, the Rockies felt like they owed Tulowitzki nothing, and that’s business, brutal and unforgiving and, more than anything when it comes to the Rockies, typical.
OK, the above doesn’t entirely reflect the sentiments or words of New York Post sports media critic Phil Mushnick, but while Phil offers no defense for Colin Cowherd’s most recent ill-advised remarks, he does suggest ESPN’s haste in silencing the morning radio host reflects a decided double standard, one
“only for dopes and/or the unfamiliar to buy.”
If Cowherd could not be suffered, the lowest, most vulgar, most women-trashing, weapons-worshipping, N-wording rappers have long been beckoned by ESPN as this Disney network’s most cherished, promoted sports pals!
How quick and eager would ESPN boss John Skipper be to publicly recite the lyrics of ESPN’s embraced rappers? Or give an on-air biographical rundown of steady favorite Snoop Dogg, including his arrest record and details of his porn videos? As eager as Skipper was to jettison Cowherd?
What’s FOX now to do? How can it now kill Cowherd’s deal when last week it proudly promoted the viewer numbers for FS1 host Katie Nolan, who’s so socially sensitive that she smugly uses expressions such as “get laid” and mocks sufferers of Tourette’s syndrome?
Such are the terms of Nolan’s “one of the guys” employment and hopeful appeal, so how can FOX now rule Cowherd out of bounds?
Saturday’s 15-2 drubbing of the visiting Dodgers left the New York Mets with a 50-48 record, 3 games behind the NL East leading Nationals and 3 1/2 trailing the Giants in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot (with the Cubs a half game back of SF). Even with the call up of highly touted debutante Michael Conforto (above) and Friday’s acquisitions of infielders Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, who exactly looks at the Mets batting order and says, “this team is thoroughly equipped to overtake the Nats or the defending World Champs?” A : The New York Post’s Steve Serby, who insists the arrival of Johnson and Uribe constitute, “a badly needed psychological boost in the stands and in the dugout.” Though admitting, “none of the moves will remind Mets romantics of the arrivals of Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez or Mike Piazza” (NO SHIT, STEVE), he’s also quick to declare skipper Terry Collins has “64 games to pick up the pace and go get that elusive playoff berth and quite possibly save his job.”
Even now, without one additional professional bat, Alderson can make the argument if he so chooses that he threw Collins, virtually naked in the water and on the verge of drowning, a life raft, and it is up to the manager to sink or swim with what he has the rest of the way.
The statue of limitations is hereby over on I Managed Good, But Boy, Did They Play Bad.
Given Alderson’s revelation in the book “Baseball Maverick” that he pondered firing Collins last summer, you would have to conclude that it is Playoffs-Or-Bust this summer for his lame-duck manager, who is a fighter who has always welcomed any and all challenges.
With better options at his disposal, Collins has the delicate task of playing grand chess master, moving pieces around, resting the right players at the right time in the right positions.
Though I’m not typically in the habit of defending Terry Collins, it’s the height of hysteria to suggest that by adding a pair of veteran role players, TC has been gifted a highly competitive lineup, one that strikes fear in the heart of opposing NL pitching staffs. If Conforto can really stick around at the big league level, that’s fantastic, but it doesn’t diminish the damage done by the Michael Cuddyer signing, the abject lack of production from John Mayberry Jr., and squandering what little power the Mets’ punchless lineup has by installing Curtis Granderson as the leadoff hitter. The architect of this not-quite-Murderous Row is not Terry Collins, but rather, Sandy Alderson, who must realize that for the first 4 months of the 2015 season, he did far less than than give Collins and an astonishing (mostly assembled by Omar Minaya) pitching staff the best opportunity to win.
(EDITOR’S NOTE : as you might’ve noticed, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald is having a field day with the New York Times’ June 23, 2015 pseudo lid-blower, “Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email”, a story co-authored by the paper’s Michael B. Schmidt. That’s a name that oughta be very familiar to sports fans following mucho coverage of baseball’s myriad steroid controversies, thought it was former CSTB contributor Ben Schwartz who made the suggestion that perhaps Schmidt’s reportage was something less than thorough. From CSTB and Schwartz, August 8, 2009, “No Smearing in the Press Box III: Big Papi Vindicates CSTB Blowhard, Michael S. Schmidt Commences Damage Control” – GC)
[This is what a working baseball reporter looks like. I wish he had Michael S. Schmidt's job]
The backpeddling officially started yesterday, as The New York Times Michael S. Schmidt shifted gears leading up to today’s David Ortiz press conference at Yankee Stadium. The same reporter telling you that Sosa appeared on the list of 104 last June, now saying Ramirez and Ortiz both appear on a list of “roughly 100,” got some fact corrections this afternoon “ like that his sources don’t even know what the actual list is. The list confirmed by the players union, which once had sole possession of it, claims 96 names “ 21 of which don’t prove players tested positive for banned substances. I quote from The New Jersey Star-Ledger:
In the supposedly anonymous and confidential testing conducted in 2003, there were only 83 failed tests, MLBPA general counsel Michael Weiner said. There were 13 other tests with “inconclusive” results. Weiner specified that these refer to test results, not players. It is possible that players may have tested positive twice.
“The number of players on the so-called ‘government list’ meaningfully exceeds the number of players agreed by the bargaining parties to have tested positive in 2003,” Weiner said in a statement. “Accordingly, the presence of a player’s name on any such list does not necessarily mean that the player used a prohibited substance or that the player tested positive under our collectively bargained program.”
With 13 inconclusive, we can also remove some 8 more results from the “prohibited” list. As Schmidt wrote in the Times yesterday: “Officials in the commissioner™s office and the players union have said they believe at least 8 of the roughly 100 players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003 were using the supplement 19-norandrostenedione, which was sold over the counter at the time and contained a powerful steroid.”
So, 96 tests make up the list: 83 positive, 13 inconclusive, and of the 83, 8 for legal-in-2003 19-norandrostenedione. So, 75 illegal users? Which list was Schmidt using? The much-publicized 104, the union’s 96, or his vague “roughly 100?” Or all three? Obviously, players appear on one list but not on another “ why? Do substantially different lists of players make up the different lists? Confusing, sure, but don’t look to the Times for an answer.
If the union’s 96 is right, and they should know “ the gov’t took it from them, it sounds like the killer number here is 75 players for illegal, anabolic steroids with 8 legal users (83). Did Schmidt get his names from the confirmed 75 or not?
In my recent back and forth here with Schmidt’s editor at the Times, Tom Jolly, he pointed out to me that Ortiz a) admitted he “failed” the test, and b) “The point is that banned substances were found in the samples from Rodriguez, Sosa, Ramirez, Ortiz and David Segui.” Actually, Ortiz confirmed his name appeared on a list, but did not know why. 13 tests, we now know, came back inconclusive. Ortiz and his union say he’s one of those. It means that unless Schmidt can verify specifically what Ortiz or other players he outted tested positive for, if they did test positive, he’s reporting that being on the list alone is de facto proof of using banned substances (as per Tom Jolly’s statement above).
As of today, that’s a rather reckless assumption if only 75 players of the “roughly 100” are confirmed as unquestionably positive. Do Schmidt’s sources know which listed players did not test positive for banned substances? Schmidt sure doesn’t. Unless Sosa, Ramirez, or Ortiz pull an A-Rod confessional for Schmidt’s benefit, his stories are so much hearsay and rumor.
Ortiz claims he did not know his result came back positive. As one of the 13 or more inconclusive results, that makes sense because Ortiz’ name does not appear in The Mitchell Report. As Schmidt wrote yesterday, “All players who tested positive in 2003 were told that their tests had been seized by the government, according to the report presented to Major League Baseball by George J. Mitchell ….” The report never cites Sosa, Ramirez, or Ortiz “ maybe because they didn’t test positive. At any rate, that’s as plausible as Schmidt’s vague sources.
Yesterday, Schmidt started posturing. The headline of his analysis reads: “Ortiz’s Explanation Is Unlikely to Reveal Much.” This assumes Ortiz has something to reveal. Today, Schmidt’s assumptions have less credibility on this than Ortiz. In the first paragraph of his story, Schmidt writes:
Since it was first reported nine days ago that the Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was among the roughly 100 major league baseball players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, he has repeatedly said he would get more information about the test result so he could provide an explanation.
Again, more like 75, as I read it, substantially fewer than the “roughly 100,” or 104, Schmidt cites in different stories, both of which “meaningfully exceeds” the real results. “Repeatedly” is an odd word, too, as if Ortiz is a liar, rather than that he’s answered the question repeatedly asked of him. You’ll find no recognition whatsover from Schmidt that he based his claims on an exaggerated or varying lists, as he now apparently accepts Weiner’s word on the union 96 list without question or challenge. As Weiner noted of the Times reporting:
œThe result is that any union member alleged to have tested positive in 2003 because his name supposedly appears on some list ” most recently David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez ” finds himself in an extremely unfair position, Weiner said in the statement. œHis reputation has been threatened by a violation of the court™s orders, but respect for those orders now leaves him without access to the information that might permit him to restore his good name.
Indeed, violations that Schmidt sought/received from anonymous, unreliable sources, with agendas unknown. I’ve asked repeatedly why all four leaked player names (including A-Rod, outted in Sports Illustrated) are Latino players “ and repeatedly why all but Oritz are well known, grandstanding, arrogant divas appearing to get some kind of petty payback via these leaks. It’s only my opinion, or “analysis” as the Times might call it, but I believe Ortiz’ name was thrown to Schmidt along with Ramirez’ in order to make that story a headline. Ramirez’ name alone isn’t steroid news after his 50-game suspension this summer. I mean, 2003 results are a bit of a so-what in his case. Ortiz’ name makes it a Boston World Series headline, and a screamer at that.
Schmidt then offers some self-serving For the Good of Baseball, Please Fess Up tripe:
The court restrictions also mean that the Red Sox faithful, who largely adore Ortiz, may not get full disclosure. Ortiz was a fan favorite as he helped the franchise end an 86-year World Series championship drought and add another title three years later.
Knowing the exact substance that Ortiz tested positive for would shed significant light on what he might have put in his body in 2003. What his fans and peers think of him and his hitting feats could be influenced by what illicit substance he is linked to.
Yeah, if only David Ortiz came clean and verified your threadbare story admitted his sins, those poor suffering Boston fans could find some closure. Mr. Schmidt, here’s an idea, how about you report the rest of the story? You didn’t with Sosa or Ramirez, and now you want Ortiz to confirm what you couldn’t find out about him? Since the Times story that started all this is so much gossip, maybe full disclosure of Schmidt’s weak reporting is what the Boston faithful need.
In today’s press conference, Ortiz gave his side of it. It’s on Schmidt to dispute it. Schmidt has another problem, i.e., following up on his claims re Sosa and Ramirez. Are they in the 13 inconclusive or 8-possible-positives for legal-in-2003-but-not-now supplements? Tom Jolly would say “no,” if they’re on the list they used banned substances. But how does he know?
Finally, Schmidt reported one fact that at least narrows down somewhat who’s been leaking to him. He wrote: “In a statement Saturday morning, Major League Baseball said it did not possess the list of names of players who tested positive in 2003.” If MLB itself doesn’t know who is on the list, the lawyers he refers to in the Sosa and Ramirez/Ortiz story seem to be from the players union or the government. Maybe there’s lawyers on the players union side with their own self-righteous crusade to save baseball. Or maybe it’s the gov’t “ whose case against Barry Bonds fell apart last February, just as A-Rod’s name somehow leaked. I still say Schmidt got played by his sources.
Did Ortiz juice hardcore, needles and all, a la Mrs. Roger Clemens? These days it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. Still, I can’t say “yes” based on anything Michael S. Schmidt wrote “ nor can Schmidt. Since it appeared in the Times, however, Ortiz has been vilified over Schmidt’s inconclusive half-story. Boston’s Ortiz had the guts to hold his press conference in Yankee Stadium. I hope Schmidt has the nerve to hold his at Fenway.