Philly gossip columnist Dan Gross lifts the lid on hockey’s love of booze, with the kind of story that’s supposed to never get out of the locker room… as Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren notes, while not really denying the most juicy stuff:
The hard-partying ways of Flyers captain Mike Richards and center Jeff Carter played a major role in the organization’s decision to trade both players in June, say two Flyers who played with the pair last season….
Shortly after his arrival in December 2009, coach Peter Laviolette instituted what players came to call the “Dry Island.” Laviolette asked team members to commit to not drinking for a month, and each player was asked to write his number on a locker room board as a pledge. No. 17 (Carter) and No. 18 (Richards) were absent from the board on the first Dry Island, as well as the estimated five more times the policy was instituted….
Holmgren was “really upset that this is out there. That’s our locker room. Our inner sanctum. Our board. Someone’s crossing a line here,” in discussing the Dry Island.
Holmgren did deny such things led to the trades (Carter now plays for Columbus, and Richards for L.A.). And Carter’s agent said it was “bull—-” that “they are out partying and not focused on hockey,” though that’s certainly not new gossip to anybody who reads Flyers message boards (or Sports by Brooks).
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. recently said he won’t or doesn’t want to move former Oakland A’s Opening Day starter Joe Blanton (above), whose $8.5 million salary is reasonable for a #3, but high for a #5. As we all know, the fact that Amaro said this probably means a trade is coming. The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Bob Brookover says it should be:
Amaro said the Phillies don’t have to trade Blanton to reduce a payroll that is already over $160 million, and that’s probably true. Come July, however, the $8.5 million that Blanton will be paid this season could be better used on something other than a fifth starter.
As great as the Phillies’ first four starters should be this season, the team is not without some question marks. Brad Lidge finished strong last season, compiling a 0.73 ERA over the last two months before pitching four scoreless innings in the postseason. But he still wasn’t the guy who dominated the league in 2008.
And there’s no guarantee that the projected platoon of Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown in right field is going to provide the kind of production that will enable the Phillies to overcome the free-agent loss of Jayson Werth.
It would be a real shame and perhaps even a real disaster if Blanton’s $8.5 million salary prevented them from going after quality reinforcements.
A school of thought says that it might be impossible to deal Blanton because of his contract, but this is a guy whom the Phillies paid big dollars because they thought he would be a solid third starter in their rotation. Amaro needs to persuade only one other GM to believe the same thing. And when guys go down with injuries in spring training, the trade landscape can rapidly change.
But there’s a lot wrong with this logic. Trade Blanton now so you can deal/pay for other guys in July? Why not just trade Blanton in July, if the team has shown that it can win 100 games without him at that point? He’ll be worth more to a deadline contender wanting a post-season proven starter than he is for any old team with a #3 hole now. At that point teams will also be more willing to take all of his salary (which includes two more years of contract). Blanton is not overpaid, there just aren’t that many teams who can actually pay him (and need him) as a #3 or #4. If any team was willing to do that while providing the Phillies with anything but a laughable return, he would already be gone.
Sure, that means spending extra cash for 2-3 months, but that would also give the Phillies time to find out if they have the answers to the question that this column highlights (bullpen, RF). I suppose it’s possible that the $4 million they spend on Blanton for three months is $4 million they can’t spend on acquisitions in July, but those acquisitions would be half-price too. Plus, when you are dealing at the deadline, budgets get a little looser all around. Come July, you can trade Blanton himself for what you need, or for prospects if you’re moving some to fill those other needs.
And yes, players get injured in spring training. They also get injured during the season. Every current member of the Phillies rotation has spent time on the DL over the past three years, and each of the last three Phillies teams has needed not five, not six, but seven to eight starters. If JA Happ, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton – 60% of last year’s spring training rotation – can all go down for several months, so (unthinkable as it may be) can any of the current studs (three of whom are over 30). It would look pretty stupid to trade Joe Blanton and then have Kyle Kendrick instead of Roy Oswalt (and Brian Bass – ok, Vance Worley – in Kendrick’s spot) for even just a month if you don’t have to.
Because, y’know, we’re living in an era of ill-chosen metaphors. And it’s the sports blogosphere. And I’m 7. From last week’s ink-on-paper Sports Illustrated:
“When we’re getting double-teamed, we gotta anchor that down,” said Frogs nosetackle Cory Grant two days before the game. “If we get pushed back, there’ll be seams opening up all over the place.”
(I’ve got a dick for a brain, and my brain want to sell an inferior NBA product and discriminatory housing to you?)
Although noted in passing by GC two posts ago, SPIN.com’s interview with Greg Dulli deserves full cut-and-paste attention.
I went to the Clippers vs. Timberwolves game the other night with Mark Lanegan. We sat next to Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers who is this maligned guy in L.A. He's known as the worst owner in sports — all sports [laughs]. We talked to him all night.
About what a rip off [point guard] Baron Davis is [laughs]. He's lazy! He signed this big contract but never came to play! We also talked about how special [21-year-old power forward] Blake Griffin and [22-year-old shooting guard] Eric Gordon are now, and are going to continue to be. The Clippers will probably get a good draft pick again this year and then they'll have an excellent, young core. We were brutally honest with him. I've been a frustrated Clippers fan for over a decade and I let him know all my problems. But I forgot to get his number and so he could get us floor seats!
Given Sterling’s other charming qualities, I’m gonna guess they didn’t bond over each other’s favorite King Records A-sides.
The Oregonian’s Jason Quick has an informative recap of “How the Jail Blazers became the Frail Blazers”, though with a non-disclosure keeping former GM Kevin Pritchard quiet and Paul Allen not talking, it’s left to former President and one-year GM Steve Patterson (above) to look back on the Blazers’ drafting process and provide the now-obligatory Kevin Durant second-guess.
Like many NBA teams, the Blazers medical staff assigns a ranking to a potential draft pick or player they are interested in acquiring. Of the seven players on the Blazers’ current roster who were drafted in the first round by Portland from 2006-2010, five were rated as high risk from a medical standpoint, including one who was essentially given a red flag as dangerous to draft. Because of laws protecting the privacy of players, the team would not disclose those players’ names.
Steve Patterson, who served as Blazers president from June of 2003 through March of 2007 as well as handling general manager duties from 2006-2007, said the Blazers’ medical staff was consistently spot-on in their evaluations. He called Blazers doctors Don Roberts and Tom Reis “among the best doctors in the NBA.”
“They had an unique talent to look at a player “ particularly Dr. Roberts when it applied to knees “ and with great precision predict what would happen to that player in the future,” Patterson said.
Patterson said the recommendations of Roberts and Reis were not always followed.
“There were points in time when there were others within the organization who weighed in on decisions who didn’t have the same perspective as the doctors,” Patterson said. “And those decisions came back to haunt the organization.”
The Blazers tell Quick they saw no issues with Roy or Oden’s knees during the drafting process, though Roy’s health was discussed before they gave him a max contract (but they did).
Sometimes an exaggerated comment-baiting argument can be a force for good–I’m not convinced the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s John Gonzalez really thinks the Phillies ought to (or contractually can) do as he suggests, especially since his argument requires a lawsuit to play out first, but highlighting a race discrimination suit against the bar McFadden’s in the context of their partnership with Citizen’s Bank Park brings more light to a nasty little story. And if you don’t think that’s fair game, your Grandpa probably booed Dick Allen.
Last week, a class-action civil-rights lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court. It claims that McFadden’s and its parent company, East Coast Saloons, are guilty of “racism and racial segregation” and that those practices are “not only tolerated, but mandated.”
The complaint goes further and alleges that the general manager of the Old City bar, Walt Wyrsta, texted a fellow manager on Oct. 28: “We don’t want black people we are a white bar!” (Wyrsta could not be reached for comment.)
Despite being an establishment that’s heavily patronized by college kids and other people in their 20s, the Old City location has a dress code. Among the prohibited items: excessively baggy clothes, work boots, hooded sweatshirts, and athletic jerseys. It also requires customers to tuck in their chains.
The suit was filed on behalf Michael L. Bolden. The 29-year-old is a part-time bartender at McFadden’s in Old City and has been employed by the company since 2007. According to the complaint, the bar has 75 employees but only five are black, including Bolden (who has an African American father and a Cuban American mother). The suit claims that Bolden, who is also a lawyer, had his prime shift changed about the same time McFadden’s allegedly attempted to dissuade black customers from frequenting the bar….
If these latest allegations about McFadden’s are true, it’s long past time for the local baseball team to boot the bar from Citizens Bank Park. A young man died there. That’s tragic and heinous. Now the company that owns the establishment is being accused of fostering racism. That’s not the family-friendly image the Phillies want to project.
Even if the lawsuit isn’t true, that dress code is a piece of work. But I’m actually less inclined to rip McFadden’s for the 2009 tragedy. I mean, they should be held accountable in court for overserving if they’re guilty of that, but the bar itself was not the reason that those people came there on that night, the Phillies are (and people drinking in the parking lots is probably still a bigger problem than people drinking in that bar).
Of course, all the other food in CBP is done by Aramark, the Philadelphia concession company. One could just as easily come up with half a dozen reasons why the Phillies shouldn’t work with them.
This timely glimpse into the future of US-Philippine relations is a guest post from singer-songwriter and sweet-science aficionado Paul K.
A PAC MAN OF A NEW KIND
Manny Takes Oath of Office, US Prepares for Title Fight in the Pacific
In this populous, primarily Catholic and Muslim island nation, hopes are high that a Pacquiao administration will revitalize US-Filipino relations and deal knockout punches to both terrorism and poverty. The new president (47-1 with 36 by KO) will govern from the center, he has said, remaining in the 146-lb. bracket and avoiding the corners.
In the US, Commerce, State and Defense department officials were cautiously optimistic, even as rumblings were heard not only in Washington but in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Of chief concern is the seeming slipperiness and speed of the new Filipino president and the fear that a bloated US military could have trouble pinning down the elusive, height-challenged (5’6”) champ. Also potentially troubling is the question of whether Pacquiao, whose fight nickname is “Pacman” after the 1980′s video-game gobbler, will be able to maintain his usual grace in juggling four careers: boxer, actor, pop singer and head of state.
Current events in the Philippines will surely test Pacquiao’s storied ability to bob and weave. With banana, coffee and oil prices at ten-year highs the Philippines remain impoverished, having been all but swindled out of the bulk of dividends from the so-called “Asian economic miracle.” Manny’s strategy will undoubtedly rely on massive infusions of capital as well as “punchstat”-style goal-achieving record-keeping and the use of the regulatory counter-jab, according to a well-placed source.
“Pacman won’t go out but on a stretcher,” the source, said to be an aide to Rep. Kelly Pavlik (D-OH), claims bluntly. “He won’t stop, won’t back off, wouldn’t even consider throwing in the towel.”
The new president’s former trainer, Freddie Roach, told reporters what else to expect of the administration. “Manny will come out swinging, working to both uppercut American imperialism and undercut China’s miserable productivity-to-earnings ratio,” Roach said. Speaking from the Los Angeles set of his television show “Roach Motel” through a voice-actuation synthesizer, he added, “The guy (Pacquiao) does his homework and I know he’ll have his export-based economy ramped up high within weeks of the opening bell.”
Such words do not come easily to the ailing Roach, whose reality show, which documents the goings-on at a “reality-show contestant’s ‘training camp,’” recently plummeted in the ratings and is in danger of cancellation. “We’ve been getting pounded in there lately,” he said, “but with Manny sworn in maybe we’ll get some better shots landed, ratings-wise.” Mr. Pacquiao appeared twice on the show during last year’s campaign.
The swearing-in took place at a soccer field in General Santos City, the teeming, now-famous slum outside Manila the new president still calls home. The champ bankrolled a turkey and rice feast immediately after the ceremony for residents of the neighborhood. Filipino attorney Jesus de la Corte, the former celebrity chef and one time aide-de-camp to Imelda Marcos, delivered the oath while holding a Roman Catholic bible.
(CSTB is pleased to report that no Missoula business has proposed anything similar for this week’s game against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.)
Having apparently picked up Denver, UT-San Antonio and
Southwest Texas State, the Western Athletic Conference is now waiting on FCS power the University of Montana.
The Missoulian’s Chelsi Moy reports the Griz have received special dispensation to continue playing annual games against in-state Big Sky rival Montana State, though it seems to me said rivalry will merely become a stage on which the lower-level school enjoys reflected glory and an every-ten-years upset, while doing nothing for the Griz’s strength-of-schedule (like, imagine if Oregon had an annual game with Portland State).
It would be exciting for the program, but would also change the local college sports experience. Right now the Griz and Cats are everything around these parts; most Saturdays Montana’s ABC and CBS affiliates pre-empt the likes of Texas-UCLA and Florida-Tennessee to show the in-state games. Montana’s history and success is as a national power at its level; I’m not sure going 7-4 against Louisiana Tech and Texas State while playing big games on a Friday night will have the same cache.
It’s ironic, really, that a bunch of teams are gonna leave behind the very thing that most people in college football claim to want (playoffs) so they can play in the uDrove Humanitarian or Kraft Fight Hunger bowl. On the other hand, what alumnus wouldn’t like a trip to Hawaii every other season?
(Update: Score one for the little guy: Montana’s staying in the FCS).
The National Hockey League has figured out a way to stir up interest in its 2011 All-Star Weekend; unfortunately, it won’t be for the game itself, but rather, team selection day on Friday.
Following a fan vote for the top six players in the league (three forwards, two defencemen and a goalie, regardless of which conference they play in) the NHL Hockey Operations Department will name 36 more players. That’s when things get weird:
¢ After the 42 NHL All-Stars have been selected, two captains will be chosen per team by the players.
¢ On Friday, January 28, 2011, a draft event will be held in Raleigh with all 54 NHL players (42 All-Stars and 12 rookies) during which the captains will draft the remaining members of their respective teams.
¢ First selection in the draft will be determined by coin flip and selections will continue on an alternating basis.
¢ Each team will be required to select three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in any order they choose.
Seems to me that it would be a lot more entertaining if this happened right before the game, in true pick-up/shinny style. There’s nothing all that interesting about, say, Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan and Philadelphia’s Mike Richards being All-Star teammates. In fact, it’s more interesting (albeit only marginally so) to see hated conference and division rivals play together.
But to watch, say All-Star captain Sidney Crosby point at Richards, or pass up a Penguins teammate for a member of the Capitals? That should be good for at least 20 minutes of entertainment (which is 20 minutes more than any All-Star Game), and would be more so if it didn’t happen in a draft/press conference environment.
(Info via Puck Daddy.)
(Update: Eric McErlain, then of Fanhouse, foresaw it all.)
One of these things is not like the other…. or is it?
Taylor: Cowboys are NFL’s most pathetic team; time to fire Wade
Man jumps off High Five interchange in North Dallas
Wade Phillips fired as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys
Taylor: Cowboys ‘seem to have little regard’ for Jason Garrett as next head coach
Cowlishaw: Cowboys fans need to stop showing up if they want Jerry Jones’ attention