[Sully, caught in the act by yrs truly in 2009 at AT&T Park's Press Box “ how he got in, I don't know. "This isn't going up on the Internet is it?" asked Sully. Weird, because every time I read a Sullivan story I ask the same damn thing. Ben Schwartz/CSTB]
Jeez, I thought I’d written enough about the lameness of Chicago media and Milton Bradley. If Bradley’s exit from the Friendly Confines did anything, it appears to have done some permanent damage to those who baited him from day one of his signing. Apparently, the traumatic specter of an uppity black man not “yes, sirring” and “no sirring” the paunchy middle-brows of Chicago’s sporting press can’t be shaken, specifically by the Trib‘s Paul Sullivan. With Spring Training open, Sully went right back to racially profiling a player not even on the squad anymore versus the Cubs’ new hire, Marlon Byrd. And without Bradley’s own volatile personality as a distraction, what Sullivan did all last year is now painfully obvious. Wrigleyville 23 astutely picked up on Sullivan’s obsessions here, via a Sully tweet from camp. Then, Bruce Levine and Jonathon Hood, without naming Sullivan, brought up his profiling issue (and Wrigley’s racist rep in the league) with Derrek Lee on their ESPN 1000 “Talkin’ Baseball” show:
“It’s ridiculous,” Lee told Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on ESPN 1000′s “Talkin’ Baseball” Saturday morning. “If it was a white guy who came over [to the Cubs] would he be [called] the ‘anti-Milton Bradley’? It just makes no sense. Marlon’s a completely different guy. He wasn’t traded for Milton. He signed here as a free agent, so why even bring Milton Bradley’s name into it? It really makes no sense and it’s just, again, the media trying to make something out of nothing.”
Bradley’s tenure with Cubs was tumultuous, with the switch-hitting right fielder accusing some fans of hurling racially charged taunts his way at Wrigley Field.
Lee said that Bradley’s accusations and similar comments from former Cub Jacque Jones don’t help in luring African-American players to the North Side.
“It’s definitely not a positive when you’re looking at coming to Chicago,” Lee said. “But I think overall, the positives do outweigh the negatives and we’re baseball players, so we’re pretty good at kind of blocking out all of that outside stuff and focusing on in between the lines. And in between the lines, Chicago’s a good place to play.”
Milton Bradley’s 2009 at Wrigley was a disaster, but at least those who wanted it that way and worked so hard for it are getting some of the credit.
[Pictured, the real Willie Mays still dwarfed by his mythic image.]
It goes to show you how deeply steroids = baseball itself to some people, when Pete Hamill, reviewing the new Willie Mays bio in The New York Times, writes:
A long time ago in America, there was a beautiful game called baseball. This was before 30 major-league teams were scattered in a blurry variety of divisions; before 162-game seasons and extended playoffs and fans who watched World Series games in thick down jackets; before the D.H. came to the American League; before AstroTurf on baseball fields and aluminum bats on sandlots; before complete games by pitchers were a rarity; before ballparks were named for corporations instead of individuals; and long, long before the innocence of the game was permanently stained by the filthy deception of steroids.
In that vanished time, there was a ballplayer named Willie Mays.
And how. For the record, ‘Ol Man Hamill appears to approve of desegregated baseball, night games, and (maybe) West Coast baseball. And as a blogger without a copyeditor, I appreciate his use of sentence fragments throughout his piece. Still, his dreamy memories and tired nostalgia in reviewing the new James Hirsch Willie Mays biography make your teeth grind all over again re the steroids era. I’m guessing this is the first thing Hamill ever read about Willie Mays, since his impression of WM derives almost entirely from when Hamill was 12.
I mentioned Mays last week when Ernie Banks went off on steroids and Sammy Sosa. Do the amphetamine driven ballplayers of Mays’s era deserve the same asterisks and loathing? Hamill says that San Francisco’s windy Candlestick Park probably robbed Mays of over 100 HRs in his career. He glosses over how many extra games, hits, HRs, whatever that Mays’ drug use may have brought him. Mainly, I guess because Hirsch’s book does the same. Mays nor anyone else from back then needs an asterisk, nor do Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig for never facing a black ballplayer (well, ok, yes, that last era does). Mays also gained lots of HRs in his lifetime as new ballparks were built as hitters parks … However, only the adolescent perfection of Hamill’s pre-teen Brooklyn seems to matter as a yardstick here. To him, steroids are apparently the only thing in baseball history that has “permanently stained” the innocence of the game. Not segregation (90 years of it?), not pre-steroid era drugs, bans on free agency, the Black Sox, not the pre-union days of discarded and broken players without health care, not the totally arbitrary “golden age” of NY Babe Ruth baseball v reality in determining records and Hall of Fame ballots or standards of achievement … nope, just steroids. And Astro-turf. Guys like Hamill wring their hands over the day they realized baseball is a big business. For him, it was when the Dodgers moved to LA. For a lot of us non-NewYorkers, that’s the day NYC finally ceased to be the center of baseball.
Ok, it’s just a game. For many of us, it’s history, reflecting life in America. That’s the real value of Hirsch’s book, and why reexamining Mays’ career again is worth while. It’s not that Mays needs a takedown. His career makes him worthy of serious treatment. Not for this Paul Bunyon hooey of Hamill’s: “The result: Hirsch has given us a book as valuable for the young as it is for the old. The young should know that there was once a time when Willie Mays lived among the people who came to the ballpark. That on Harlem summer days he would join the kids playing stickball on St. Nicholas Place in Sugar Hill and hold a broom-handle bat in his large hands, wait for the pink rubber spaldeen to be pitched, and routinely hit it four sewers. The book explains what that sentence means. Above all, the story of Willie Mays reminds us of a time when the only performance-enhancing drug was joy.”
If memory serves, that four sewer moment of Mays playing ball on Sugar Hill was staged for Life magazine. It’s why people recall it so vividly. The press was there to cover it for a national magazine, as PR, to inform kids like Hamill of a myth that they still hold dear and insist on selling us today.
[Pictured, Mark McGwire reporting to Cardinal Spring Training.]
A second tell-all is on the horizon regarding Mark McGwire’s steroid use, and it begs the questions, a) how much more do we want to know (even about Cardinal steroid use), and b) just how much of a spite generating, grudge-inducing bastard is Mark McGwire to inspire two books on his steroid career? I mean, this is the “aw garsh” bawling bash brother who burst into tears in front of media while accepting his massive Cardinal contract (while doping). Apparently, Canseco, and MM’s own biological bashing brother, have no problem laying him out cold. What’s up? Not surprisingly, Jay McGwire is on his big brother’s You’re Dead To Me list. As the AP reports, the feud apparently started over Mark McGwire giving Jay’s son a swat on the butt. Of course, what’s left out is that given McGwire’s strength at the time, the kid flew an impressive 600 feet:
Jay McGwire says in the book that he persuaded his brother to start using steroids regularly in 1994 and set him up with a supplier. He says Mark regularly used an array of drugs through 1996 that included Deca-Durabolin, human growth hormone, Dianabol, Winstrol and Primobolan. McGwire later used androstenedione, a steroid precursor that wasn’t banned by baseball until 2004, when it became a controlled substance.
“I’ve already come out and said what I’ve done and apologized,” Mark said. “As far as I’m concerned there’s really nothing new. It’s kind of sad as a brother what he’s done, but I’ve moved on from it.”
Jay McGwire, a former bodybuilder who turns 40 on May 5, said he was introduced to steroids by friends in 1989, beginning with pills of Anavar. He says his brother only gave in to using steroids after an injury-filled 1993 season.
McGwire hit 70 homers for the Cardinals in 1998, shattering Roger Maris’ record of 61 set in 1961.
The brothers haven’t spoken since 2002. They fell out after Jay McGwire’s stepson, Eric, tickled Mark and caused Mark to spill coffee on himself. Mark then swatted Eric on the backside. Jay’s wife, Francine, then refused to attend Mark’s wedding.
["Buy me some peanuts and crack ...", can't say Eddie Vedder doesn't have his moments.]
Welcome to the first Cubs Mailbag of 2010. Fans may bitch about our No Big Moves Off-Season of 2009-2010, but how about renaming the legendary Cubs Mailbag? Meet your new Cubs’ “Inbox!” How Sam Zell missed selling naming rights to it I don’t know. I for one am sorry not to see the “Captain Morgan Bag ‘o Mailbooty,” but even Zell’s eagle eye missed a nickel here and there. Nor were fans consulted. I like the Ricketts’ use of Executive Power here. The Trib Cubs usually announced even the slightest of moves as a “planned change,” meaning months of No Lights! style fan protests demanding they keep using the old-timey mailbag Ron Santo used. “Inbox …”, it sounds strangely contemporary for anything Cub “ especially for a ball club residing in a 1914 rusting hulk of a park that remains baseball™s equivalent to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It™s like watching a History Channel show, say on Hitler™s shoe factories (Boots of Destruction: How the Nazis Walked Across Europe, if you haven’t seen it) and someone said œDrive-thru window. Well, first things first …
First, Congrats Sammy Sosa!: I’m catching up here, so I have to mention Mark McGwire’s arrival at Spring Training after his emotional confession of drug usefor the Cardinal payroll office on national TV. What does that mean to the Cubs? It means Sammy Sosa is the legit single season HR king, that’s what. Bonds, McGwire, the Ultimate Warrior, and all other needle users aside, Sammy has admitted nothing. While it will surprise no one with eyes if he does admit it, no one can get it out of him. The New York Times last year claimed Sammy doped, but the Times was discredited when challenged by the player™s association and the paper had to admit (or as they put it, were “unclear“) that they did not have an accurate list of doped players. I said last year that the NYTs Michael S. Schmidt was getting fed by the gov’t, and it looks more and more like it every day. Since the gov™t returned œthe list, Schmidt, has been somewhat silent on the issue and has been reassigned as a burrough ambulance chaser writing up guys in the Bronx beating up their moms with frying pans.
Yes, I thought, if Sammy can just keep his mouth shut for four years, Cooperstown and a Bronze Ranger Cap await. You™d think Cub fans would appreciate Sammy™s unrivaled stature as baseball royalty. Instead, none other than Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, asked Sammy to œcome clean. On the Cardinals, Tony La Russa brings McGwire back in the fold. With the Cubs, Ernie Banks plays Judge Judy. Let me offer six words never heard before in Wrigley : œHey Ernie, Shut the Fuck Up. Well, not heard since Leo Durocher managed him, anyway. If Ernie wants questions answered, he should play with kids his own age. How about Willie Mays’ incredibly contemporary sounding non-denial non-admission of using amphetamines, as reported in the new James Hirsch bio of Willie? Me, I’d like to hear about how hard Ernie pushed for a decent team out of PK Wrigley. I’d like some answers from Ernie about my sitting through so many lousy Cubs seasons rather than him becoming one more self-righteous voice on steroids.
The State of the Cubs: With Milton Bradley gone, the Cubs settled into a pretty quiet off-season regarding moves. Well, they did give their usual vote of confidence to closer Carlos Marmol, who has suffered through Kerry Wood and Kevin Gregg, by offering him a wopping one-year contract. The common wisdom, as CBS blogger Danny Knobler reports here, is to write off last season to injuries and point out that the squad itself is solid. Solid, but older “ I have less faith in seeing a 2008 Dempster or Zambrano in 2010 than the official Cub line allows. With Milton Bradley unavailable to wear a target on his back for all things failing, other questions will come up, like why Piniella and Hendry can’t get Zambrano to work. Knobler does point out that the Cubs were tied with the Cardinals in first place through August 7, despite all distractions. The brightest news for me out of Spring Training so far is perhaps Jim Hendry’s prediction of the team’s new owners, the Ricketts Family, as being something like the O’Malleys and the Dodgers. Walter O’Malley … the guy who tore down Ebbetts Field? Sounds good to me. The idea of a forward thinking anything in the Cubs front office is welcome news.
So, Lou Piniella is returning in a much more optimistic mood. The Cubs finished 2008 with 97 wins and then choked in the play-offs because of their 100-years-without-a-title œstress issues. Piniella ordered some sports psychology books from Amazon to deal with such psych-outs, resulting in a 2009 83-78 finish, a Cardinal division title, and driving the volatile-but-successful Milton Bradley into an muted depression and failure. I don™t know, maybe Piniella mistakenly ordered some books o Guanatamo Bay psy-ops books on breaking men down, cuz that was the result.
As to the inboxmailbag itself, the name changed but not the rules: I answer the actual questions Carrie Muskat receives from Cub fans nationwide, or at least most of downstate, Internet-free Illinois. I simply answer the questions the way I think Carrie would, if not for contractual obligations and the common courtesy her job requires.
I see that the Cubs signed Nady. I know when he was with the Pirates, he killed us, especially in Wrigley. What are his career numbers at Wrigley? I think the Cubs could definitely use him as a backup to Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano. — Mark A., Momence, Ill.
Hello, Mark. The Inbox has many fond memories of flying over Momence … God Bless. The good news is that Nady has a career .304 average in 28 games at Wrigley Field with two homers, eight doubles, and 15 RBIs. The bad news is that, as a Cub, he won™t be facing Cub pitching.
I’m pretty optimistic about Zambrano this year. He seems to have a better attitude and looks to be in better shape. Is there any way the Cubs could hire a shrink to work with him in the dugout between innings? Considering his $90 million contract, this could be good insurance. Are there any other options out there for keeping him sane? — James P., Naperville, Ill.
A shrink? Please see my views on Lou and psychology above. Mr.Zambrano is a near-sighted, potassium-challenged, banana-eatingGatorade-machine smashing super-talented slouch. He signed his $90 million deal and then, after his no-hitter, declared he was retiring once the contract was up because he™d missed too many Mothers Days. Can shrinks fix that? The old Lou Piniella used to do it by kicking Rob Dibble™s ass in the Reds clubhouse, and they won a World Series. Wow, thinking of that moment makes me wish Kevin Gregg had stayed at least until Opening Day.
I heard the Cubs are staying in Arizona. If this is true, how come there are still talks about moving to Florida? Also, how long would the contract be for the Cubs if they did stay in Arizona? — Justin G., McHenry, Ill.
Hello, Justin. Good ˜ol McHenry ¦ I miss seeing it™s name roll by on WGN™s Tornado Watch crawls. As the Irish like to say, may your trailer be right side up an hour before the devil knows your dead. It™s not true that the Cubs were ever moving to Florida. As Sam Zell retired from baseball, he scouted locations for a senior home down there. Within days of arriving at the Golden Age Estate, however, he began leverage-loaning residents™ cash against their walkers and scooters. He was asked to leave, but is currently too heavily anchored in resident pension funds, which he is using as collateral on the walker loans. Hard to break old habits, I guess. Updates on this situation will be provided during the season.
Any more news on whether the Cubs will retire Dawson’s number? I know they said they would retire it if he went into the Hall of Fame as a Cub, but I think they should retire No. 8 anyways. Greg Maddux most likely will go into the Hall as a Brave and the Cubs retired his number. Also, I think it’s garbage he’s going in as an Expo. If he wants to go in as a Cub, let him go in as a Cub. It was his career and he knows which organization he benefited with and associates himself with the most. Plus, the Expos have a total of about 17 fans while there are millions of Cubs fans who would appreciate it more. — Joshua S., Elmhurst, Ill.
The Inbox agrees with you Josuha, let the Expos retire his damn number. Actually, with the Expos out of business, all their numbers were retired. There™s also the fact that Dawson™s Expos cap was not his choice, but the Hall™s. After 9 attempts to get into the Hall, he still bitched about it. You™d think Dawson wouldn™t push the issue, you know? Like, fine, put me in a Kansas City Pilots hat, just put me in the Hall already. I guess they™re building up to the next big Cub indictee inductee Mr. Cub, Sammy Sosa.
When do individual game tickets go on sale? — Gary I., Decatur, Tenn.
œIndividual game tickets? Wow, still can™t find a date, Gary?
["The men despise me, they hate me, and I can readily understand why. They hate to see a man in that ring that is ten times better at anything that they do ... regardless of what is, the art of making love, anything."- Classy Freddie Blassie, 1918-2003.]
The above is fall two of Fred Blassie’s March 1962 title bout with Rikidozan, officiated by Johnny “Red Shoes” Duggan and called by KTLA’s inimitable Dick Lane. This is prime West Coast Blassie when the Classy one was the promotion’s star, most hated heel, and champion (including his then trademark biting, with teeth sharpened Ty Cobb-style on a steel file). You can check out the first fall here, and feel the hate and heat Blassie could draw from a hometown LA crowd against a Japanese champ. A Happy birthday goes out to the greatest all-around everything in wrestling: champion, heel, manager, and my favorite interview ever “he woulda been 92 today. You can check out his interview style here (going shoot on Hogan), interviewed as LA champ here, his managerial finesse on display in the Piper’s Pit with Kamala the Ugandan Giant here, managing and promoting Muhammed Ali onThe Tonight Show, discussing his $40,000 bathroom and smashing Iron Shiek action figures with Regis Philbin (as Philbin dares slug the Sheik), a guest shot on The Dick Van Dyke Show, or the above 1962 championship bout from one of his greatest feuds, with Rikidozan. Years later, when Rikidozan was dead (reportedly killed by yakuza gangsters), a Japanese film crew interviewed Blassie in his last years, still working for Vince McMahon. When asked how he recalled Rikidozan, Blassie swore he wasn’t through with the dead man yet and would wrestle him in Hell. The cartoonist Drew Friedman once printed up an insulting postcard of Mr. Blassie. He received a copy of said card in the mail addressed to “Pencil Neck Drew Friedman” with the note … “Keep looking over your shoulder. I’ll tear your heart out through your knee cap. As Ever, Fred Blassie.” Here’s to you, Freddie.
[Scott Steiner welcomes Mark McGwire back to St. Louis and adoring Cardinal fans. Why can't Jack Clark show as much class?]
Recovering Retired Cardinals mgr Whitey Herzog (1980-90) and former owner Augie Busch IV (his family sold the ‘Tards in ’96) are apparently not so welcoming of Big Mac’s post-’roid confession and return to St. Louis nor La Russa. What’s interesting here isn’t so much an old school hero like Whitey Herzog coming down on McGwire, but Augie Busch publicly calling La Russa a liar. As Augie puts it, “McGwire has chosen to come out of the closet at the perfect time — alongside a manager who also refuses to be honest, to the fans or to the game itself,” Busch said. “After all, why would Tony La Russa hire a hitting coach whose lifetime batting average was only .263?”
As a Cub fan, this reporter wholeheartedly supports a Redbird team average of .263, and wish Augie would give McGwire a chance to work that magic on the whole squad. I can’t tell if La Russa was more in-denial about his ‘roided out A’s and Redbirds or that Mark McGwire’s return to MLB would actually be any more popular outside STL than Barry Bonds was outside San Francisco. On Wednesday, Herzog went off at a Red Smith Sports Banquet in Appleton, WI, unloading thusly to the Appleton Post-Crescent:
“I’ve got nothing to do with him,” Herzog said, clearly annoyed. “I don’t want to comment on steroids because they’re all lying. And they’re still lying. They get on steroids because they say they want to get back on the field. The reason they’re on steroids is because they got injured because they were taking steroids. Because their muscles grow too fast, and every time they make a false move, they slip and pull something. It’s always a pulled muscle, rib cage, a minor something. That’s bull.”Let’s get to the bottom of this. It’s a health problem, but nothing’s going to happen. The people in St. Louis give Mark McGwire a standing ovation the other day, and (former major leaguer) Jack Clark said every steroid user should be banned for baseball, and they booed him. Now, what the hell is the matter with society when that happens?”
Actually Whitey, I think at this point the lovable Jack Clark would get booed handing out twenty-dollar bills on Opening Day.
["You are entering a world of pain." Jersey's bowlers will defend their city's tax ratables to the death.]
For extreme bowling aficionados nationwide, the most brutal bowling scenes ever filmed include Boris Karloff’s death scene in the original Scarface, Woody Harrelson’s ball-return hand mangling in Kingpin, and John Goodman’s Vietnam Vet going off in The Big Lebowski. Still, the Scorsese-like arson job on January 11th that wiped out Vineland, NJ’s Loyle Lanes stunned everyone when it turns out the alleged firebug is the owner of rival Pike’s Alley, Steven Henry Smink. Pike’s recently lost two leagues to Loyle over broken equipment, saw its liquor license revoked, and was under investigation by the state for $3000 on unauthorized 50/50 raffles. Smink apparently chose to go “Goodfellas” and hit Jersey where it hurts most “ its bowling. While no Springsteen benefit has been announced or even rumored, NJ.com’s Jason Laday reports here:
Both Smink and Manzano each have bail set at $300,000 and as of Wednesday were in the custody of detectives in Philadelphia pending extradition to New Jersey, according to Ulrich.
The juvenile was released to his mother pending further court action from the Cumberland County Prosecutor™s Office.
œIt appears that it was Steven Smink who set up the arson, added Ulrich. However, the lieutenant declined to describe the relationship between the three suspects.
œBut they are connected, he added.
Responding to the news, family spokesman and first-generation co-owner Charles Loyle said he couldn™t fathom why anyone would want to do this to his family.
œI can™t image someone having the idea to do this to us, said Loyle, flanked by his brother, John Loyle, and second-generation owners Michael and Chuck Loyle. They were standing before the ruined shell of the South Delsea Drive attraction.
œThis family has been part of the Rotary Club, I™ve served on the hospital board, we™re part of the community, he added. œTo take someone™s opportunity to make income, to take away a place of recreation for residents and to tax away a source of tax ratables for the city ” it™s beyond our comprehension.
Members of the Loyle family stated they had never met Smink or the other suspects in person. However, they stated customers who also bowled at Pike Lanes would tell them Smink would speak openly about œchallenging them or intending to œput them out of business.
I realize that others can, and will, speak more eloquently to the music of Vic Chesnutt than I. Still, news of his death yesterday felt like one more punch taken in a miserable year. Sorry, as usual when an artist dies, I think of myself first and what I just lost. I can only point to how much he got done, how deeply he affected those who knew him, and his example of what can and can’t be taken away from a person. He was 45. Considering how he reportedly died, on Christmas Day, I found this lyric quoted by Ben Sisario in his New York Times obit of Chesnutt particularly moving: œI™m not a victim/Oh, I am an atheist.
[Cosloy, this afternoon, working a CSTB "hot line" lead that Tiger Woods' marriage might not be doing so well.]
For those of us born into a non-Xtian religous affiliation, who appreciate a certain “indie” sensibility to our music and bought much of it in the 1990s (if not so much now), and who don’t have any family obligations of a time-consuming nature this evening, and haven’t seen any breaking Milton Bradley news today “ we turn our Xmas Eve thoughts to another important birthday, that of CSTB founder Gerard Cosloy. God Bless you GC! Please have someone buy you a beer “ no, TWO “ for me!
[Pictured: a high maintenance, overrated, unreasonable impediment to the 2009 Cubs. And on the right, Milton Bradley.]
Has the ship sailed on “cash for clunkers” as a punchline? Bradley goes to the Mariners and the Cubs receive $9 mil in cash over two years plus P Carlos Silva. Bradley is owed around $21 mil (although reports now say 23) and Silva is owed slightly more over two years including a minimum $2 mil buyout in 2012 (or $12 mil if he plays, as reported on ESPN). As for Silva, the Cubs managed to keep Rich Harden up and running against all odds (albeit, odds set by sports writers) and the North Siders managed to rehabilitate Kerry Wood into a closer before trading him. The Cubs turned Ryan Dempster into a starter. For everything lacking in Hendryville, handling pitchers hasn’t been a problem, esp following Dusty Baker. Ok, ok, they can’t get Zambrano to eat all his bananas and get his Lasik surgery, but no one’s perfect. Worst case scenario, the Cubs just ate $12 mil. Best, Silva can rehab into a starter or mid-game reliever. That said, I hope Silva likes Iowa in July.
As for the Bradley autopsy, his 2009 stats “ .257 BA, 12 HRs, and 40 RBIs “ speak for themselves. He’s a player with a laundry list of embarrassing public outbursts, no perceivable filter in choosing when to stand one’s ground or blow up over slights/imagined insults. MB’s confrontational career, willingness to publicly make accusations of racism about fans, players, and dismiss the sporting press as Uncle Toms or with total silence “ all of that is well documented. As for his saying Wrigley was a negative environment in which to play, well, given his past, you could argue he thrives on that. So what happened? Bradley got hurt early-on and his average for the season never recovered. It’s certainly fair to point out how overpaid Bradley was in his $30 mil deal given his considerable history of bench surfing.
However, for the Bradley mess, I blame Jim Hendry. The day he signed MB, Chicago sports hacks and beat reporters attacked Bradley personally as, among other things, a “nutbag.” Most disturbing to me was the argument that given Wrigley’s history of racist fans taunting their own players, Bradley would not hold up under the pressure. The total acceptance of racism as an unquestioned Given at Wrigley, and that it was only Bradley’s problem to deal with, is sick. You’d think Jim Hendry woulda fired back “ defended his $30 million deal, denounced racist fans, or deny and defend the Cub fan base (well, if he seriously could do the last, which he can’t). Hendry did none of it. It set the tone for the season, of hanging the combative Mr. Bradley out to dry. Injuries, the 2-game suspension (which MLB reduced), and other gaffes and errors were left to a hateful press corps and disgruntled fans. I covered the Chi media racism angle here, here, and here. Sports on My Mind‘s MODI pretty much summed my complaints here, and added some points of his own worth reading.
For Milton Bradley, 2009 was a relatively calm year: did he charge fans, announcers, or call a Cub player racist, as he did the Dodgers’ Jeff Kent? Instead, Hendry stood by as Cub fans got labeled racists by the press and other ballplayers (one of whom, OF Mike Cameron, he hoped to sign as Bradley’s replacement ). But Bradley finally went Too Far for Hendry by snapping back at fans who grew to hate him, saying, “And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative.” That comment and pulling himself from the line-up in the Cubs’ (by then) futile division bid brought about a temper tantrum from Hendry in the form of a 15-game suspension. The resulting message to MLB: Bradley is impossible. It damaged him as a trade option so much that Hendry sucked up the Silva deal yesterday. Nicely handled, Mr. H, it only cost the Cubs $12 mil to shut Milton Bradley up and scapegoat him for a mediocre season all-around. The press greeted Bradley’s signing by saying Wrigley fans were trash. Bradley got a 15-game suspension for finally coming to agree with that.
Hendry was named Cubs GM in 2002. There’s always been drama on his watch. This is the same Hendry era that treated Sammy Sosa like a dog on his way out, no matter how much he did to turn the Cubs around in the public’s mind as a team that could win. Spin it this way “ he treated Sammy like a dog no matter how much f’n money Sosa minted for the Cubs. Yeah Sosa was a pill toward the end, but he was LEAVING. Hendry’s tenure in the front office has been one long class-free high-maintenance soap opera: Sosa, Baker, Jones, Pierre, and Hawkins all left the Friendly Confines on bad terms (ok, Hawkins was awful). Even Greg Maddux left on bad terms on his second run with the Cubs. Of course Milton Bradley didn’t work out with Hendry. Who does?
Wait, you know who had a great time on Hendry’s Cubs? Kerry Wood. Hendry dumped years and 10s of millions into that guy, and for what? Wood picked up bonus money and options and sucked up to fans. He started a charity bowling event and took out big newspaper ads thanking fans when he left town. Wood slipped in hot tubs and missed spring training, sat on the bench for years, all while resisting a lower-paying closer job (and contributing nothing while he did it), and reminding us all what an amazing rookie year he had. Kerry Wood’s inability to heal any injury makes me wonder if he isn’t lost Russian royalty. Kerry Wood is Wrigley personified, all Aw Shucks charm and no results.
The question in my mind isn’t who will replace Bradley in CF, but who will replace him as Hendry’s next problem player. I’m guessing another mediocre year from Zambrano will mean Big Z v Hendry in 2010. Z fits the pattern right now: expensive, once great, an ego problem, and possible trade bait. He’s also not white, which is another unfortunate pattern here.
[Holliday ready to bolt Cardinals? This Cub fan can only hope.]
The Cubs countered the Cardinals’ aggressive off-season bid for OF Matt Holliday today by announcing their boldest move of the off-season, signing WGN radio Cubs color commentary man Ron Santo for a reported 3-year extension. Given what the Cards have done this winter and what the Cubs have not, we can look forward to lots more of Santo’s patented “Ah, jeezs” and “Oh maaaanns” during Cubcasts. Like Harry Caray before him, Santo specializes in giving the fan’s point of view at Wrigley. Odd, since Santo actually played the game.
So, while Jim Hendry chases his Holy Grail deal of dumping Milton Bradley “ and only then will he think about improving the 2010 Cubs “ Joe Strauss reports the following on the hoped for collapse of the Holliday deal (by me anyway):
Increasingly impatient to reach a resolution, sources familiar with talks believe it possible Holliday could reach a verdict before Christmas.
The proposal exceeds the average value of the seven-year, $100 million extension the Cardinals and first baseman Albert Pujols negotiated in February 2003. However, the Cardinals™ bid does not meet the average annual of a deal that the Colorado Rockies offered “ and Holliday rejected “ in 2008. Aside from the 6½ years that have passed since Pujols™ signing, Holliday is available as a free agent. Pujols™ signed his deal after his third major-league season, allowing the club to avoid three years of arbitration while guaranteeing Pujols four additional seasons and including a club option for 2011.
Boras has attached Holliday™s market value to first baseman Mark Teixeira, who signed an eight-year, $180 million deal as a free agent last winter. Teixeira also is a Boras client.
The Cardinals steadfastly refuse to enter that neighborhood; hence, a seeming impasse. Though classifying a continuation of talks as encouraging, a source familiar with the process denied significant movement in the past several days.
The agent makes the case that Holliday has been a more productive player than Teixeira in the last three years. Holliday has compiled scored 36 more runs and also run up higher on-base and slugging percentages in the span. Teixeira has narrowly outpaced Holliday in RBI (336-334) in that time.
Indeed, Holliday and Pujols are the only players to amass a .300 batting average with a .500 slugging percentage in each of the past four seasons. Holliday, Pujols and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are the only players to achieve a .900 on-base-plus-slugging percentage each of the last four seasons.
[When a restaurant offers antacid with the meals, can the word franchise be far behind?]
I know the owner of this blog is some sort of musical elitist or something, but I throw down the following to GC: rock or ribs? I pit your love of trans fats and music against one another, and await the answer. News that Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain’s new place, Rock and Roll Ribs has opened in Coral Springs, Florida means I just may be making the trip East if the Cubs do indeed move their 2010 Spring Training camp to Naples, Florida. Especially encouraging is the guarantee that Nicko “brings his vast musical knowledge and powerful name to Rock n Roll Ribs.” The menu includes Road Crew Onion Loaf, Hot Chix Backstage Sandwich, Security Staff Stuffed Potato, and the $49.95 rack and a 1/2 of ribs plus known as the Appetite of the Beast (Feeds 4 Regular Rocks or 2 Metal Monsters) that includes antacid. Well?
[A hurt Jim Hendry takes his jersey back from Milton Bradley.]
If MTV endures all the heat from “Jersey Shore,” I’m hoping my pitch for “North Shore,” a show about real life dumb ass Cub execs running wild at the Winter Meetings is green lit. Yes, arrogant white-collar loudmouths nationwide will object, but I just call that good press.
Gordon Wittenmyer’s wrap-up of the Winter Meetings appears today in the Sun-Times. The upshot, of course, is that after a week of Jim Hendry psychodrama over Milton Bradley, no team in baseball is willing to take MB unless the Cubs eat the majority of his $21 million two-year deal. Dusty Baker, Greg Maddux, Sammy Sosa, Jacque Jones, Juan Pierre, and now Milton Bradley’s probable exit from the North Side, it’s becoming obvious that leaving the Cubs on bad terms is about the only way to go. Hendry, of course, is the one factor that hasn’t changed in all those exits. More and more, it looks to be about him.
Hendry let Bradley dangle when reporters baited him on race, when reporters called him a “nutbag,” and then when MB refused to talk to the media, the Cubs scolded Bradley over it. Hendry’s 15-day suspension of Bradley sent the word to baseball that MB was impossible. Then Hendry, genius that he is, decides to put Bradley on the market because he feels he has no choice. Yes, there’s a choice. Hendry needs to get over himself, and as one unnamed manager put it re Bradley, bite the bullet and play him.
So, Mike Bauman’s MLB column yesterday looks tube fed to him from Cub Central. The basic premise is that trading Milton Bradley is “mandatory,” eating his contract is acceptable, and any complaints from Bradley re racism are laughable. Writes Bauman:
A defense of Milton Bradley would require an abiding belief that he has been the victim of racial prejudice in Montreal, in Cleveland, in Los Angeles, in San Diego, in Chicago, etc. Eventually, you would wind up arguing that there has been a conscious conspiracy to ruin Bradley’s career. And you would have to argue that this conspiracy extends not only through most of baseball but through most of North America.
You don’t want to argue that position, because it would be refuted on a daily basis by each and every non-Caucasian baseball player who may have encountered prejudice along the way, but who has competed, succeeded, prospered. No, this is probably more about Milton Bradley than about the rest of the world. And it is also about the Cubs, believing that Bradley would be a model citizen simply because he told them that is what would happen.
No, actually, none of that is true. Bradley has gotten into lots of disputes about racism over his career, but he’s also managed to succeed while doing it. I wish people would keep in mind, it was the Chicago press that played the race card first, on day one of Bradley’s signing, by saying he was too combative to deal with Wrigley’s fan racism. Except for Bauman, no one denies that about Wrigley. Anyway, I posted on mlb’s message board about this and was pleasantly surprised to see other fans think Jim Hendry’s ego is the problem here too and that Bradley is not worth trading at any price. Hendry has a lot to answer for from Dusty Baker thru Bradley. You have to wonder if they’re all divas or he is? At any rate, Phil Rogers column today notes that Jim Hendry didn’t seem concerned at all about losing Curtis Granderson to NY, while other reports show him obsessed with dumping Bradley. Hendry apparently tried some three-way deals on Grandy, then gave up. As Paul Sullivan writes this morning, Hendry wants an early Xmas gift in getting rid of Bradley today, and he’s become the joke of the winter meetings trying to dump a player who he himself devalued so much with last year’s 15-day suspension:
Two days into baseball’s winter meetings, the Bradley situation has turned into a running joke, with team officials tripping over each other to deny any interest in the Cubs outfielder.
In the age of Tweeting, blogging and Facebooking, the Bradley rumors took on a life of their own Tuesday, promoting serial denials.
But the long-awaited dumping of Bradley could come as soon as Wednesday, according to one Cubs source who expected “one of the teams” that had been rumored from Day One as the landing spot.
While the Rays appear to be the “leader” in the Bradley sweepstakes, in a Pat Burrell deal that would include the Cubs eating most of Bradley’s contract, rumors of a mystery suitor surfaced Tuesday.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was mum, as he has been during the drawn-out saga. Hendry used to complain about rumors at past winter meetings. But now he sits back and laughs off the Bradley rumors.
The more, the merrier?
“I’m always hopeful,” Hendry said. “Optimistically, hopefully we’ll do something.”
As Hendry spoke, a Foxsports.com report on the latest trade rumors glared from a laptop sitting on a hotel room table. Hendry confirmed he met Monday with Bradley’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, who have been his only conduit to the Cubs employee.
Bradley is going somewhere in what may be the ugliest divorce in Cubs history. Surprisingly, sources close to Bradley insist he’s not overly “anxious” for a resolution. No matter where he winds up or who pays him, Bradley is guaranteed the remaining $21 million on his contract, and the Ricketts family probably will be paying the bulk of it.
Apparently, the chase for Milton Bradley is cooling off considerably. Rumors of interest from the Mets, Royals, and Rangers died overnight. The Trib‘s Paul Sullivan reports this AM that the Mets dropped out of any Bradley talks because it meant involving a Pat Burrell deal from Tampa Bay to NYC, of which NYC has no interest. Royals and Ranger interest was just a Jim Hendry pipe dream, meaning for the moment, Bradley might be too expensive to lose “ exp if the Rays are his one option and they know it. It was Hendry’s temper tantrum last year that gave Bradley a stupidly harsh 15-game suspension and made it all but sure that Bradley would leave town, because it would undercut Hendry otherwise. Hendry painted himself into a corner, as if it was 2005 when Hendry cracked down on the crybaby Cubs of Dusty Baker’s era. In 2009 he hasn’t got the Trib wallet to indulge him. Is the Ricketts family about to eat that kind of money to stop Hendry from eating crow? Or in Wrigley’s case, Jim Crow. Players like Ryan Dempster say they’d welcome Milton back. If Hendry has to back down for the new owners “ and there’s no guarantee Hendry’s job is written in stone “ others probably won’t be far behind. Indeed, one unnamed manager wondered aloud to Sully why Hendry doesn’t just bite the bullet and play MB:
Hendry spoke to five or six clubs about trade possibilities Monday on the opening day of the winter meetings. But if the Rays are the only serious suitor, they could wait out the Cubs, hoping new owner Tom Ricketts will eventually decide that eating the bulk of the contract is preferable to another year of distractions.
Bradley’s agent, Seth Levinson, declined to comment Monday night, while Hendry has declined to address the Bradley situation since the suspension. But the belief among baseball insiders that Hendry can’t bring Bradley back under any circumstance makes his task that much more difficult.
One major league manager said Monday he would gladly take Bradley, though he added his general manager wasn’t interested because of possible negative reaction by the team’s fan base. Another manager asked why the Cubs don’t just bite the bullet and bring Bradley back rather than giving him away.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster said in October that he and his teammates would welcome Bradley back if the Cubs weren’t able to trade him. Does manager Lou Piniella feel the same way?
While Piniella didn’t have much to say to Chicago media, he told the St. Petersburg Times: “I would think a different environment would help him immensely, and I think a place like Tampa Bay would be a place he would flourish.”
And Joe Maddon’s first impressions of Bradley when the two had lunch together last offseason are a big part of what makes his Tampa Bay Rays the front-runner to acquire Bradley this offseason — maybe during the winter meetings that begin this week.The Cubs are trying to avoid another Sammy Sosa-like saga that played out until February after a split was proved necessary on the final day of the 2004 regular season. And their offseason plans depend on it.
The next three days could be the most critical in the process — with team officials optimistic a deal might get done during this week’s meetings, or at least enough groundwork completed to make a deal imminent by the time baseball execs scatter by late Thursday.
Tampa Bay remains the likeliest destination for Bradley, with a Rays source reiterating significant interest again Sunday night — but only if the Rays can move big-salaried left fielder Pat Burrell in the process.
Burrell is owed $9 million for one more year of his contract; Bradley, $9 million in 2010, $12 million in 2011 plus a small amount of his original $4 million signing bonus. How the sides reconcile Bradley’s ’11 salary and where the defensively limited Burrell eventually lands are the issues that have prevented a deal from getting done before now.
That much of the framework has been in place for more than a month, with little movement since the general managers meetings in early November. The New York Mets talked at one point to the Cubs about being a third wheel in a trade, with second baseman Luis Castillo possibly going to the Cubs — a scenario that no longer looks likely.
[Lou Piniella, George Will, Henry Paulson: chief architects of my weakass '09]
So, I saw “Up in the Air” Friday night. It’s a well-made movie, great in parts, except that I could care less about its hatchet man hero (George Clooney) who fires people for a living and how much the filmmakers want me to like him. Then I noticed that his even colder bastard of a boss who runs the hatchet man agency (Jason Bateman) has a Cubs pennant on his office wall. So, a light comedy for the rest of us, but cinema verite for the South Side. What other nation on Earth, while heaping billions on bankers to save themselves, and attacking a black President who wants public option healthcare as a Nazi, would sell you a movie about a hatchet man as its Christmas season hero? I believe this is the first Xmas movie where Scrooge gets laid.
Still, that brings us to the North Side. The Ricketts Family has announced their new regime with the kind of news Cubs fans love: no Jumbotron at Wrigley. Actually, they didn’t announce it. This is one of those Paul Sullivan Trib stories that Sully basically makes up. That is, no one was talking about a Jumbotron. There’s nowhere in Wrigley to put it. And legally, they can’t take down the landmarked Civil War scoreboard they have. So, Sullivan nails down a story that never was, but hard. For Cub purists, who don’t like Jumbotrons, indoor plumbing, and still enjoy the sounds of 1908 racists in the bleachers, your bubble is safe and sound for now. Crane Kenney, the Cubs chairman who sent a Greek Orothodox priest down to the dugout to exorcise the goat curse, is quoted by Sullivan on The Tradition:
But team president Crane Kenney said he’s never heard chairman Tom Ricketts broach the subject of a Jumbotron.
“I don’t know where we would (place) one,” he said. “Certainly you’re not going to touch the scoreboard we have, except for the re-facing (of the back).”
If you can’t go big, go small. Kenney said the Cubs are looking at the possibility of installing an intranet at Wrigley for fans carrying iPhones and other smartphones, giving them access to stats and instant replays. He said San Francisco and San Diego are among the organizations with technology giving fans at the ballparks access to game information on handheld devices.
The historic centerfield scoreboard has no room for video replay, and is landmarked anyways and can’t be touched.
“We know there is a little bit of an information desert at Wrigley that doesn’t exist anywhere elsewhere, and we are going to tackle it in other ways,” he said. “But I don’t know if we’ll do a Jumbotron.”
[John Daly, pictured, skeptical of the news that he wasn't in any way involved with the Tiger Woods car crash. Daly's attorneys are demanding it in writing.]
By now, the Internets have pretty much covered the late night Thanksgiving Day car crash involving Tiger Woods and his wife “rescuing” him with a golf club upside the head his Escalade. Rumors of infidelity, domestic violence, etc abound. CSTB is happy to traffic in all that. But this Thanksgiving Weekend, let’s not forget to congratulate CSTB frequent content provider “ at least as far as feeding GC endless excuses to quote Dean Wormer’s “fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son” line “ and PGA champ, John Daly. It was a year or so ago in October ’08 that Daly had passed out in front of North Carolina Hooters. Cheap, low brow laughs were had at his expense, for instance, here at CSTB.
11 months later, Daly woke up on a Friday morning evening and read about a golf related car accident and late night club battering that Did Not Involve Him. After double-checking with his attorneys and local Circle K and Hooters security cam footage of himself that back up this wild claim, it looks like Daly is in the clear.
It’s about a month until 2009 ends, the year of John Daly’s comeback. I for one welcome a world where Tiger Woods spends a year as a billionaire screw-up and John Daly reigns as golf’s cracker champ. But only a year, as I don’t think either man could keep up the other’s pace.
[Not haircuts! Those are Gladwell and Pinker's actual brains, which no human skull can contain.]
This Sunday, The New York Times published Harvard Prof Steven Pinker‘s review of Malcolm Gladwell’s, “What the Dog Saw.” Gladwell is a statistician of “minor genius,” in Pinker’s view, but MG is just wrong to cite analysis from two scientists that “quarterbacks taken in positions 11 through 90 in the draft actually slightly outplay those more highly paid and lauded players taken in the draft™s top ten positions.”
In his posted reply today, Gladwell calls Pinker a Harvard motherfucker “accomplished,” if still stuck on “the lonely ice floe of IQ fundamentalism.” Yes he went there! Come on, you knew that was coming!
It was Gladwell in 2005 who ripped apart the whole notion of Harvard elitism in hisNew Yorker piece, “Getting In,” so you know It’s On. Thus, Pinker finds himself on the business end of a Gladwell quadruple-digit IQ blast, race card included:
I wondered about the basis of Pinker™s conclusion, so I e-mailed him, asking if he could tell me where to find the scientific data that would set me straight. He very graciously wrote me back. He had three sources, he said. The first was Steve Sailer. Sailer, for the uninitiated, is a California blogger with a marketing background who is best known for his belief that black people are intellectually inferior to white people. Sailer™s œproof of the connection between draft position and performance is, I™m sure Pinker would agree, crude: his key variable is how many times a player has been named to the Pro Bowl. Pinker™s second source was a blog post, based on four years of data, written by someone who runs a pre-employment testing company, who also failed to appreciate”as far as I can tell (the key part of the blog post is only a paragraph long)”the distinction between aggregate and per-play performance. Pinker™s third source was an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, prompted by my essay, that made an argument partly based on a link to a blog called œNiners Nation which in turn makes reference to a œstudy of quarterbacks conducted by a fantasy football website. I have enormous respect for Professor Pinker, and his description of me as œminor genius made even my mother blush. But maybe on the question of subjects like quarterbacks, we should agree that our differences owe less to what can be found in the scientific literature than they do to what can be found on Google.
[After a century of white male hetero fail, even homophobic Cub fans will welcome lesbian ownership.]
If the Cubs aren’t anywhere near the post-season this year, they can at least claim the title of the most progressive ballclub in MLB. The Windy City Times reports that new Cub owner Laura Ricketts is the first out lesbian to own a major league baseball team. Forget how far to the cultural left this puts the Cubs compared to their former Tribune owners, it now pushes the Cubs to the left of expedient Sox fan President Barack Obama. Obama’s been dragging his feet on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in the military for two years and has been against same sex marriage for (almost) forever. Laura Ricketts works with Lamba Legal, a group that fights for gay rights nationwide. The weird thing is, while Obama would have issues with the Trib and the new pro-gay rights Cub agenda — rightwing neo-con and pro-gay marriage father of a lesbian, Dick Cheney, was as comfortable throwing out a first pitch for the conservative Trib Co. as he would for the big money pro-gay Ricketts. AsThe Windy City Times reports:
Among the purchasers is Laura Ricketts, a lesbian who now becomes the first out individual to own a professional sports team, according to MarketToMarketLLC.com. According to ABC7Chicago.com, Laura, who lives in Chicago, is a member of the board of Lambda Legal, a national organization fighting for gay rights”including same sex marriage.In an interview with MarketToMarketLLC.com, Laura Ricketts, who has a partner, said, “I came out to my family I would say early to mid 30′s. I think for a long time I wasn’t really out to myself growing up in Omaha, Neb., to a Catholic conservative family. It took me a while to come out to myself and not long after that I came out to them. I think that it really couldn’t of been a better experience. They were all immediately supportive. … I have been really really fortunate in that regard.”
Pete, Todd, Tom and Laura make up the board of directors, with Tom as chairman, NBC.com added.
The Ricketts have been outspoken about their quest to have the Cubs win the World Series, a feat the team has not achieved since 1908.
[Pictured L-R: Cub GM Jim Hendry asking Milton Bradley to return the hat and jersey by Monday.]
The Cubs closed their season against the Cardinals Sunday night in Stl with a 6-3 win, but started the day with news of Milton Bradley’s season-ending suspension for public comments. After pulling himself from the line-up on Saturday an hour before game time with a sore knee, Bradley and Bruce Miles of the Chicago Daily Herald had the following exchange:
Bradley claimed to have no opinion on where he bats – “In the lineup,” he said of his preferred spot – and the only time he became expansive at all was when he was asked if he had enjoyed his first season in Chicago.
“Not really,” he said. “It’s just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment. There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. Everything is just bashing you. You got out there and you play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it. It’s just negativity.
“And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative. It’s what it is.”
Asked whether he was talking about the fans, the media or even the Cubs organization, he replied: “It’s everything. It’s everybody.”
Whatever caused that tantrum, it was matched by a harangue of insincere grandstanding from Jim Hendry who said the following to Cub beat reporter Carrie Muskat:
“There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year,” Hendry said Sunday, “but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you. I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully. Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs. I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel.
“The only real negativity here is his own production.”
I’m no apologist for his season. Bradley being right about Wrigley fans and the press doesn’t win games. He thinks he worked harder than anyone else? Well, he’s had crazier years with better numbers. 2009 ends with him hitting .257 with 12 HRs and 40 RBIs. It doesn’t change the ugliness at Wrigley or Jim Hendry’s grandstanding, but it makes clear that the Cubs are certainly not going to change any of that for him or anyone else. The Cubs obnoxious fan base wins again. Milton Bradley and every Cub should keep in mind that the first statue built outside Wrigley was for Harry Caray, not Ernie Banks.
Carrie Muskat found several Cubs who offered a much more sincere version of the ups and downs of playing with Bradley here, altho there seems to be some willful denial on Ryan Dempster’s part about the careers of Dusty Baker, LaTroy Hawkins, and Jacques Jones at Wrigley “ or the fact that Torii Hunter has made public his no-trade clause to Wrigely because of racist fans:
“It’s unfortunate,” Dempster said. “I think everybody’s going to want to point fingers in different directions and try to put the blame somewhere on what the reasons are and all different things.
“At the end of the day, he was provided a great opportunity to come over here and be a part of a really great organization with a lot of really good guys, and it just didn’t seem to make him happy, anything. Maybe this is a little bit of a wakeup call for him and he can realize how good a gig we have ….
“It became one of those things,” Dempster said, “where you see him putting the blame on everybody else, and sometimes you have to look in the mirror and realize that maybe the biggest part of the problem is yourself and wanting to be there and wanting to play every day and wanting to have some fun. It didn’t seem like he wanted to have very much fun, even from Spring Training.”
[Gibson, offering the sort of Knute Rockne moment any number of teams could use.]
The truly subversive comedian is the rarest sort of funny. Anyone can tell a political joke. Anyone can tear down the rich and famous. Audiences talk about “taking chances,” or how “edgy” such comics are, forgetting it’s the comic’s Constitutional right to do it “ and there’s, too. The truly subversive comic actor never lets you know they’re doing it. Henry Gibson was one of those. Gibson died today, 73. Whether delivering his straight-faced beat poetry on Laugh-In, playing right-wing old school country star Haven Hamilton in Nashville, a neo-Nazi in The Blues Brothers, or the nasty drunk ridiculing William H. Macy in Magnolia, Gibson was hilariously unsettling. Check out the Nashville link, which someone posted on Youtube as if Gibson (who wrote the Haven Hamilton songs) meant it. Gibson held everything back, giving his characters a puffed up, petty smugness, perfectly offset by his height and deluded sense of grandeur. When directors knew how to get it out of him, he walks away with some pretty big movies. As for the above clip, well, this is a sports blog, and while it might not say much that he walked away with an episode of Wonder Woman … well, of course he did.
[Bronx fans predict the Captain will chase another Gehrig milestone and live to see his 38th birthday.]
Yankee fans finished throwing Lou Gehrig’s legend under the proverbial bus this evening by celebrating Derek Jeter’s ascension to the top tier of the second-tier of the top 100 hit leaders in baseball history. In other words, he’s now #52 on the all time list, tied with the Roberto Alomar. Gerhig’s career and stats were cut short by ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but that didn’t seem to register in a new Yankee stadium whose new owners will apparently hype anything to claim some Tradition on their watch. In this non-event, The New York Times’ Jack Curry sees echoes of Ripken breaking Gehrig’s true legacy,Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive games streak. I can’t wait to see the celebration in the Bronx when Jeter manages to live to be 38. Take that Gehrig! Mr. Curry reports:
Derek Jeter energetically bounded from player to player with questions during his first All-Star Game in 1998. When Jeter found Cal Ripken Jr., he told Ripken that he usually felt weary after playing for two weeks. So, Jeter wondered, what was Ripken™s secret for playing in so many consecutive games?
Cal Ripken Jr., left, says he was impressed by Derek Jeter™s maturity level when Baltimore played the Yankees in the 1996 American League Championship Series, which the Yankees won.
œI like to play, Ripken answered. œIt just happened.
It was a bland answer, the kind of answer Jeter has repeatedly given throughout his career. But Ripken said he could sense that Jeter, who was giddy as he quizzed the other All-Stars at Coors Field, was disappointed. Jeter wanted more insight about how Ripken had worked day after day after day.
œI could tell, Ripken said, œthat it wasn™t the right answer for him.
When Ripken discusses Jeter, he typically tells the 11-year-old story about failing to satisfy Jeter™s curiosity. With Jeter collecting his 2,722nd career hit Friday night, Ripken has another story to tell about Jeter because both men share the distinction of having passed Lou Gehrig for a milestone.
Ripken, of course, holds a monumental record, one that was supposed to be untouchable before he broke it. He surpassed Gehrig™s streak of 2,130 consecutive games played and pushed his streak to 2,632 before taking a day off with the Baltimore Orioles in 1998. Jeter supplanted Gehrig as the Yankees™ career hits leader with a single off Baltimore™s Chris Tillman in his second at-bat.
[Unlike Lou Gerhig's Disease, Jeter's Disease is not fatal, and rumored to be treatable with Valtrex.]
Yankee fans soiled themselves tonight over Derek Jeter’s tying the career hits record of Bronx legend Lou Gehrig, a Bomber whose career was tragically cut short by terminal illness. Congrats, Captain! Special thanks to Yahoo! Sportscommenter Clint W of Leawood, Kansas, who put Jeter’s accomplishment into perspective for me by noting: “Jeter now has 6 more hits than Bill Buckner.” The NY Times’ Tyler Kepner breathlessly reports the 53rd ranked hit king’s Historic Momenthere:
As Jorge Posada circled the bases in the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, the fans naturally erupted in cheers. The hard part was telling their motivation. Were they saluting Posada for his three-run, go-ahead homer, or reacting with glee to another chance to see Derek Jeter hit?
Jeter greeted Posada at the mouth of the Yankees™ dugout with a pat on the head. Posada is Jeter™s best friend on the team, his partner in the Yankees™ lineup for most of the last 15 years. Posada™s pinch-hit blast had sent the Yankees on their way to a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, and brought Jeter to the edge of history.
He did not quite get there, drawing a walk against Grant Balfour with two outs. But Jeter tied Lou Gehrig™s franchise record for hits, going 3 for 4 against Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann. Jeter matched Gehrig at 2,721 hits, and he gets another chance on Friday against Baltimore.
œThe fans have been great this whole homestand, Jeter said on the field after the game. œI™ve been trying to do it for them. That™s why I bunted in the first inning, because I needed to get at least one hit.
[Veeck ... first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.]
I always liked White Sox owner Bill Veeck, Jr. He started his career planting the ivy in Wrigley Field and ended it on the South Side burning down his own infield on Disco Demolition night. He only owned losers and personified Chicago’s love of its own low-rent self-esteem. Another reason to like Bill Jr. is his literary career, which includes his autobiography, Veeck — as in Wreck, Thirty Tons a Day, and The Hustler’s Handbook“ all written for him by, excuse me, “with,” Ed Linn. The Hustler’s Handbook just got reissued, and reviewed (favorably), in TheLA Timesby George Ducker,but I think the best sales pitch for this book is Veeck’s own wisdom:
“The great portion of any ball game consists of the pitcher holding the ball or throwing it to the catcher … Anything that can somehow turn that frozen tableau into a scene fraught with drama and excitement has solved about 75 percent of your problems.”
Not only that, he understands the relationship of a team to its fans. Here he is on the paradox of early 1960s Mets supporters: “No other city is so confident of its own preeminence that it could afford to take such an open delight in its own bad taste.” Chicago Cubs fans of the present day, take note.
“Yogi is a completely manufactured product. He is a case study of this country’s unlimited ability to gull itself and be gulled…. It pleased the public to think that this odd-looking little man with the great natural ability had a knack for mouthing humorous truth with the sort of primitive peasant wisdom we rather expect from our sports heroes.”
On Leo Durocher and racism: “Leo himself is without any racial consciousness – or even unconsciousness. Leo looks on each human being with the purest of motives; i.e., what can this guy do to make Leo Durocher’s passage through life easier, more fun and more profitable?”