11.13.09

The New York Yankees: Hated, But Still More Popular Than Health Care

Posted in Baseball, politics at 12:02 am by

Missed this until now: last week New York Congressman Jose Serrano led the way with one of those time-wasting boilerplate Congratulations! resolutions for the Yankees.

H.RES 893 passed, but not everybody played along. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

As a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan, Steve Driehaus couldn’t stomach supporting a resolution last week congratulating the New York Yankees on winning their 27th World Series title.

“They bought a World Series,” said Driehaus, D-West Price Hill.

When Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., and 66 co-sponsors offered the resolution last Friday, it easily passed, but 28 members – mostly from districts near Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul – voted either “no” or “present.”…

Since 1973, no resolution honoring a past World Series champion has drawn a negative vote.

The vote Friday stands in stark contrast to 1975, when the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., sponsored a resolution congratulating the Reds for winning the World Series against his beloved Red Sox. The Senate approved that resolution unanimously….

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who voted for the resolution, asked for ”the record to reflect the fact that I am a Mets fan, and I do not associate myself with the previous comments” favoring the Yankees.

Only one of the 28 naysayers was actually a representative from Pennsylvania.

10.01.09

Thomas Boswell’s Thoughts on Hockey

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey, Sports Journalism at 6:41 pm by

Are about the same as his thoughts on VORP, which is to say, he has none.

During an online chat today, the Washington Post writer – I’d call him the “baseball writer,” but he long ago became a general sports columnist, and the header on “Ask Boswell” plugs the “Redskins, Nats, Orioles and more” – got thrown for a real loop by somebody who cared enough to ask about the so-called hottest sports team in D.C. – the Capitals, currently facing off against the Boston Bruins on a channel that I don’t receive.

Iceplex: Opening night up in Boston. Think Theo can pull a consistent season out of his … hat.


(Not the GM of the Boston Red Sox)

Tom Boswell: The regular season as been a dud. I think the post-season will be excellent. These are really entertaining teams with lots of glamor. Of course, part of the reason is that this has not been a good year for parity. A lot of rich teams have come through the draw.

You can get me to watch the Yanks, Dodgers, Red Sox, Phils, Angels or Cards any day. I’d put their chances of reaching the Series in that order __and any of them could do it. Hope the Tigers hang on for detroit and Illich’s sake. The Rox have wonderful fundamentals and strong arms. But they had their WS, didn’t they?

But to answer your question, Boston has recently gotten excited at the way their pitching has gotten back to health and Ortiz supposedly done and dsicredited is one of the top A.L. HR hitters in the second half. They’re baaaack.

(Via @emcerlain and Japers’ Rink.)

Hot Gelf Action

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Internal Affairs at 12:23 am by

Gelf Magazine’s Varsity Letters Series returns to Jan Larsen Art Studios in Brooklyn tonight (October 1), with an all-baseball night featuring authors Jennifer Ring (Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball, Larry Tye (Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend and Joe Posnanski (The Machine: A Hot Team, a Legendary Season, and a Heart-stopping World Series: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds).

And who better than to interview the prolific Posnanski (above) than CSTB’s own prolix wordsmith David Roth? My favorite parts of the interview involve Posnanski’s ever-smart, yet not dogmatic take on baseball stats and Moneyball, including several anecdotes he shares about Joe Morgan:

Bill James tells a great story about how one time Jon Miller showed Morgan Bill’s New Historical Baseball Abstract, which has Morgan ranked as the best second baseman of all time, ahead of Rogers Hornsby. Well, Morgan starts griping that this was ridiculous, that Hornsby hit .358 in his career, and Morgan never hit .358, and so on. And there it was, perfectly aligned”Joe Morgan the announcer arguing against Joe Morgan the player.

You’re right about Joe Morgan being the ultimate Moneyball-style player, too. It wasn’t just his style of play, either; Joe Morgan quotes from 1975 sound like they could have gone into the book Moneyball, verbatim. He talked all the time about how batting average was overrated, and how you had to get on base, and how RBIs were just a context statistic, and how you had to steal bases at a high percentage, and so on and so on..

That’s just a taste… by all means click to read in full.

08.24.09

History Is Written by the Winners. Poetry’s Another Story

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 12:54 pm by

 /></p> <p><a href=From Amazin’ Avenue:

Baseball’s Sad Losing Team: A Poem by Howard Megdal

(with apologies to Franklin P. Adams)

This is the saddest of possible word
Bruntlett to Bruntlett to Bruntlett
Killer of rally in season absurd
Bruntlett to Bruntlett to Bruntlett
Vicious line drive that seemed destined to drop
Giving the Mets chance to come out on top
This year’s indignities simply won’t stop
Bruntlett to Bruntlett to Bruntlett

The Mets already have a victory of sorts against the Phillies on this Monday afternoon – Cliff Lee has allowed two runs (albeit, one unearned) for the first time as a National League pitcher, though the Phillies Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer off of Bobby Parnell in the first. Eric Bruntlett (filling in at SS today after playing second yesterday) is 0-1.

08.16.09

Born to Wrong: Mushnick on the Jets and So-Called “Jersey Scalper Act”

Posted in Greedy Motherfuckers, Gridiron, Sports Journalism, Ugly New Stadiums at 5:54 pm by

While I certainly don’t begrudge anti-corporate crusader Phil Mushnick any opportunity to rip on PSLs and Giants Stadium, my guess is that today’s heavy breathing in the Post is factually suspect — the rantings of a man who’s never bought a ticket in his life, perhaps?

AMONG the desperate come-ons the PSL/NFL Jets are dangling to those who buy season tickets is this promise: “Exclusive opportunities for other stadium events.”

Really? How so? At a time when legislation is being fast-tracked to eliminate the insidious inside trading of tickets and ticket-buying opportunities to concerts held in New Jersey venues, what does “exclusive opportunities” mean?

Friday, we called the Jets to ask. Does “Exclusive opportunities for other stadium events” mean, for example, first crack at concert tickets?

“Yes,” the salesman replied. “That means you’ll be able to buy tickets during the pre-sale [before they go on sale to the public].”

In other words, what the Jets are promising in exchange for buying season tickets — first shot at concert tickets, tickets delivered from the inside for inside trade — is precisely what’s finally being acted against by New Jersey legislators and New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, who have joined to try to eliminate such malodorous enterprise.

Current law mandates that no event in the Meadowlands can withhold from the public more than five percent of tickets for general sale. And the BOSS Act, introduced in June and in part named after Bruce Springsteen, whose New Jersey concert tickets often land in professional scalpers’ and ticket-agency hands long before the public gets first or fair crack at them, is designed to further diminish or eliminate inside ticket distribution and the double-dealing that drives it.

Now, I’m not gonna go and read the (federal, not New Jersey) legislation, which ought to keep me just as well-informed as Phil. But it seems that the proposed law doesn’t outlaw pre-sales, or even artist and promoter set-asides — it merely demands full disclosure of how many tickets are available beyond that.

It would also seem the 5% law Mushnick cites does not apply to pre-sales. Jets season ticketholders, people in the Coldplay fan club and anyone with an American Express card may be getting special access, but they’re still considered members of the public. What’s more, while this part seems a little dubious, the publicly-run New Jersey agency behind the Meadowlands interprets the current law to mean the 5% limit on hold-backs only applies to them, not artists, sponsors or media. That’s why Springsteen himself, who held back 12% last time around at Izod, hasn’t paid a fine like Ticketmaster.

Meanwhile, I get pre-sale offers from the Phillies (Jimmy Buffett!) all the time, and I’m not even a season ticketholder. Elitist? Maybe. Potentially illegal? Doubt it.

Braves Beat Up on Lidge; Wife’s Escalade Beats Up Brett Myers

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Baseball, Beer, Sports TV at 2:45 am by

As Brad Lidge’s ugly season marches on — if last year was “Lights Out,” this year is definitely “Come As You Are” — Phillies fans and writers can’t stop dreaming of alternatives. The Philadelphia Daily News‘ Paul Hagen, for example, nominates CSTB favorite Country Time.

That’d be Billy Wagner — the guy whose loss and blown save in two games against the Astros kept the Phillies from the wild card in 2005. And also the guy who helped the Phillies finish off a four-game sweep of New York back in August of 2007. Is it something about facing former teams? Guess not, since he was brutal in the ’06 NLCS as well.

Wagner also coughed up seven leads during 2008 before requiring surgery; Lidge has now blown eight. It all seems a pointless topic really – should Wagner do well with the Mets these next two weeks, a wild card contending team will waiver-claim him, and/or the Mets will want a real return (at least from Philadelphia). And if he doesn’t, then it’s moot.

Besides, the Phillies already have a former closer poised to come off the DL and play September hero. Because it isn’t just Brad Lidge’s pitching that is lacking — it’s also his personality. I mean, what’s the matter with this guy? He keeps coming out and talking to the press after every blown save or tough outing, including each of the last two nights. Not once has he physically threatened a beat writer, or even blown one off, as reigning World Series MVP Keanu Reeves seems prone to do. They taught him well at Notre Dame I guess.

Whereas Brett Myers, of course, is one of those public figures of whom you you can actually ask, “when did you stop – ok, “allegedly” stop – beating your wife?” and it’s not a “gotcha” question.

Which is why the news he’d miss a scheduled rehab start on Saturday was kind of a big story. It was first reported that he’d injured his left eye while playing catch with his four year-old son Kolt. Scott Boras tried to sign Kolt then and there, but soon the story changed – turns out Myers actually tripped out of the backseat of his wife’s Escalade while they were out for dinner.

More from MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:

The Phillies said early Saturday that Myers suffered an eye injury while playing catch with his son, Kolt. But the Phillies later said Myers changed his story.

“I know exactly what people are going to think,” Myers said in a telephone interview Saturday evening with MLB.com.

In other words, they will think Myers was intoxicated….

And that’s why he said he initially told Brian Cammarota, who is the team’s Minor League athletics trainers and rehabilitation coordinator, that he got hit in the eye with a baseball. But Myers said soon after the first call to Cammarota, Kim urged him to call Cammarota back with the true story.

“I’m an idiot,” Myers said. “I’ve never felt so frickin’ embarrassed in my life.

First statement, agreed. Second statement, really? This was worse than the arrest?

Because I know my first thought wasn’t, “oh, Brett must have lied because he got a little drunk.” I also didn’t figure that he had a power-washing accident. No, when someone who was once arrested for domestic violence turns up with a shiner and is less than truthful about how he got it, your first thought’s probably gonna be… domestic violence. Especially when Myers’ wife, having refused to testify against him in 2006, said back then she started it (“I became upset with him and I pushed him away from me”).

The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Andy Martino did acknowledge all this history, and even called the local sheriff’s office to make sure there hadn’t been an incident report (they did not return his call). His colleague Jim Salisbury also interviewed Kim Myers:

“No, I did not hit him with a frying pan,” Kim Myers (above) said, with a laugh, while teasing her husband for being a “klutz.”

Well, okay then. I’ll take the whole thing at face value for the sake of making several other points.

First, if you’re described on a 911 tape as “smacking a girl around…he’s a pretty big guy… and he’s hitting her hard,” but you can also hit a home run off C.C. Sabathia, hey, it’s all good, dude! Granted, Myers received legal vindication, while Michael Vick did not, but now that he’s served his time, methinks the Eagles new QB is one long “Wildcat” TD run away from feeling more accepted in his new hometown.

Second, I guess we are supposed to view Brett Myers as a guy with focus problems, anger issues and a boys-will-be-boys penchant to throw back a few too many until Boston gave him the big wake-up call. That probably pisses off domestic violence advocates, but let’s just stick to baseball here. THAT’s the guy who’s gonna stabilize the Phillies bullpen? I know closers can be crazy, and Myers was a decent – if not perfect – closer in 2007, but I’m not sure I feel any better about him facing Manny or Albert Pujols in a playoff game than I do Lidge. Whether he’s getting arrested, threatening a writer, being sent down to the minors or enjoying a night out in Jacksonville, volatility and drama follow #39 around.

08.15.09

Jim Dickinson, RIP

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 4:19 pm by


(Mudboy and the Neutrons, Dickinson second from left)

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Iconic Memphis musician and producer Jim Dickinson has died.

The 67 year-old Dickinson passed away early Saturday morning in his sleep, according to his wife Mary Lindsay Dickinson. Dickinson had been in ill health for the past few months, and was recuperating from heart surgery at Methodist Extended Care Hospital. œHe went peacefully, said Mary Lindsay.

The Associated Press story says Jim is “perhaps best known” as the father of Luther and Cody, which might be something of a stretch unless you’re under 25. In addition to the obvious (Stones, Big Star, Replacements), I especially treasure Green on Red’s “Here Come the Snakes.”

08.14.09

Who Says Hockey Isn’t LGBT Friendly?

Posted in Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?, Hockey at 1:23 pm by

chl logo

Tweet of the day:

Ryan Tobler, Bill Vandermeer and Igor Agarunov are just some of the players signing this week -See all trannys at http://tinyurl.com/r6ggqt

08.13.09

Death Wish: Poor Musician, Average Pitcher, Honest Man

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science at 1:48 am by

bronson arroy

Despite the recent suspension of Phillies reliever J.C. Romero and former teammate David Ortiz’s claim of “tainted supplements,” Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who’s available to any team wishing to trade for him, remains a dedicated customer of Orrin Hatch’s favorite industry. From Bob Nightengale of USA Today..

There are different-colored pills, powders, liquids, proteins, caffeine concentrates and ginseng, products such as creatine, Triflex and xelR8 found at local vitamin stores. Most of the products have not been approved by Major League Baseball for use by players, Arroyo says. Some of the items have the potential to trigger a positive test under baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Arroyo takes them anyway.

“I have a lot of guys in (the locker room) who think I’m out of (my) mind because I’m taking a lot of things not on the (MLB-approved) list,” Arroyo says. “I take 10 to 12 different things a day, and on the days I pitch, there’s four more things. There’s a caffeine drink I take from a company that (former teammate) Curt Schilling introduced me to in ’05. I take some Korean ginseng and a few other proteins out there that are not certified. But I haven’t failed any tests, so I figured I’m good.”

In the interest of not writing one of those posts that makes it unnecessary to click over to the actual site where it appeared, you should really click over to the actual site where it appeared. There you can read Arroyo’s further comments about “andro” (sneak preview: ” I felt like a monster”), amphetamines and whether Manny might drop dead at 50.

I just hope this doesn’t diminish Bronson’s Hall of Fame chances. The Rock’n'Roll Hall of Fame, I mean.

(H/T to @FriedmanHNIC)

08.06.09

Soon to Replace Yuniesky Betancourt on Royals Roster?

Posted in Baseball, Cats at 4:38 pm by

For a better look, see MLB.com’s clip from the TV broadcast.

07.11.09

Houston Baseball Writer Hates the Playa and the Game

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 11:08 pm by

“If I thought it were newsworthy, I would write a story about it,” blogs the Houston Chronicle’s Jose de Jesus Ortiz, in a post that’s headlined “McNair’s death not a lesson to one idiot”.

…after a recent game, a Major League Baseball player asked a female intern from another media outlet if she’d like to join him at a club in Houston later that night.

That was the first stupid decision made by the player, who just happens to be a married father. The young lady then accepted his phone number, which was a major no-no in the context of how it was offered.

As if that weren’t silly enough, the young lady, who has nearly 700 “friends” on Facebook, decided to post this message on her Facebook account for over four hours: “Was asked out by (team name and player name) last night and I have his cell phone number to prove it.”

I’ve deleted the team’s name and the player’s name because I’m not going to mention any names.

I have since informed two of this young lady’s mentors how irresponsible this Facebook post is and how it appears as though she is bragging about getting the player’s phone number. Things you post on Facebook can get you in serious trouble. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has worked hard to gain the generous clubhouse access media get to major league clubhouses. And women have gone through tremendous pain to earn the right to be let in and treated with respect in major sports clubhouses and locker rooms.

All dead on the money as a journalism issue. But I’m afraid the only lesson any extracurricularly inclined pro athlete’s gonna take away from Steve McNair is the one this major leaguer already has down: “don’t cheat in your own town.” With perhaps another, if the stories out of Minnesota have some truth: “don’t cheat on your mistress.”

06.07.09

LOSER! LOSER! Denver’s Dater on Sid the Kid and Geno

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey at 12:56 am by

He's all yours, Pittsburgh

If not for the fact that he didn’t call him “Cindy,” I might have thought that I was on a message board – the Denver Post‘s Adrian Dater on tonight’s Red Wings-Penguins game:

Absolutely awful performance tonight. I don™t care what the Pens do in Game 6; this series is over. And I suspect the Pens will do what they did last year in a Game 6 at home – play close for a while, then lose to the Wings.

Sidney Crosby is going to turn into John Stockton if he doesn™t watch out. He has definitively proven that he™s not good enough yet to take his team to a championship title. These are his prime years, and this was supposed to be the year he took his team over the top against an older, less-hungry team like the Wings….

I was set to bestow a placement of Crosby into the Pantheon of great players tonight, those who willed their teams to victory in the biggest of games, after a year or two of learning how to win. Instead, Crosby and his teammate – Evgeni Malkin- were terrible. Terrible.

They are excellent, marvelous individual players. But they are losers, in the final analysis. Great players would have found a way to win tonight.

Crosby and Malkin are not great players, therefore.

No, Crosby and Malkin are, respectively, 22 and 23, whereas “old” Red Wings like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Marion Hossa are, as Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Joe Starkey points out with glee, 28, 30 and 30. John Stockton? 35 before he even made it to the finals.

I agree about the likely outcome of Game 6, but if Dater was set to place Crosby in the Pantheon of great players tonight, maybe that was his mistake, especially since this team was not even playoff-bound until they fired the coach, got Gonchar back and added Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin.

And what’s a veteran hockey writer doing wielding hoops analogies? Why not fall back on the already-tired Penguins/Crosby to Oilers/Gretzky comparison, with its theory that the Penguins’ loss last year was the equivalent of Edmonton’s 1983 fall to the Islanders. Gretzky was 23 when he first won the Cup in 1984, but that was his fifth NHL season (and seventh pro). This is Crosby’s fourth. If that’s who we are using as the measuring stick I think maybe Sid’s ok, and will likely have a few more shots (don’t get me wrong, I hope he never makes the final again, since every year the Penguins do the Flyers won’t, but that’s neither here nor there).

Frankly, with its veteran goaltending, vastly better blue line and overall defensive play, a fully healthy Red Wings team could have easily won this series 4-0, and almost took it 4-1. If in fact they are a little hurt and tired, that may also be because they had to play a real (and young) opponent in the conference finals, whereas the Pens ran into a team – an “aging” team, you might even say of certain Carolina players – that peaked with its two early upsets.

(Both links via Kukla’s Korner… or rather, @kuklaskorner)

06.01.09

Luis Castillo, Unavailable for Comment?

Posted in College Spurts, General, Gridiron, Lower Education, The World Of Entertainment at 11:26 pm by

The DirecTV show Friday Night Lights has a way of making every high school football player seem so altruistic, soulful and misunderstood, but that’s not how Mumbling Matt Saracen (which is to say, actor Zach Gilford) found the jocks during his own college days in Evanston (which is also his hometown). From the Daily Northwestern (H/T to @JimmyTraina.

Were you a fan of NU football while you were a student here?

Gilford: Growing up, I was a big NU fan. Then I got here, and I met a bunch of the players, and they were jerks. They weren’t good that year, so I was like, “Well, you’re not good and you’re not nice, so I’m not going to root for you.” But now that I don’t know them anymore, I root for them because I pretend they’re nice.

Can’t say that I have anything to add to this, as I don’t recall any Wildcats football players trying to work at WNUR in the late ’80s. I did, however, take freshman Spanish class with Academic All-American PK Ira Adler. He seemed nice (and probably got a better grade than me).

05.31.09

Under the Crossbar and Dreaming

Posted in Hockey, music, Sports TV at 4:08 am by

Intriguing analogy from one of John Buccigross’s readers.

John,

I was thinking about why people hate Sidney so much, and it reminded me of why I dislike DMB [Dave Matthews Band].

When I was in college (1995-05), DMB started to get popular, and I, like many, enjoyed his music. After a month of “Ant Marching” playing on the radio every other song, I grew tired of DMB and changed the channel every time it came on. People kept telling me how great DMB was and questioning why I decide to not listen to their music. I just grew tired of hearing them. Everyone tells me the DMB jam sessions are incredible in concert. Someday, I may break down and go.

I think that is how the hockey world feels about Sidney at this point. Everyone (except us Pittsburgh fans) is tired of hearing about him. Sidney vs. Richard, Sidney vs. Ovie, Sidney vs. Staal. People have just burned out and hate for no apparent reason, because I agree with you that he is what hockey is all about. Also, I think that if people watch the live version of Sidney, they would have a newfound respect.

Terry Ayers
Fort Mill, S.C.

I’ve never grown tired of Dave Mathews Band, Ben Folds, Nicklas Lidstrom or any artist or athlete with originality, talent and commitment. I find these people inspiring. I understand growing tired of Lady Gaga, Cheez Doodles or ham, but not unique greatness.

I don’t know, anyone who lived in South Carolina and spent 10 years in college probably saw their share of Hootie and 7 Mary Three shows – which hockey players are those bands?

Also, if you don’t think ham falls into the category of “unique greatness,” you’re not eating the right ham.

Meanwhile Folds, who is a solid dozen years past his sell-by date in my book, apparently does quite well in the online sportswriter demographic. From Joe Posnanski’s Twitter:

Being old, we showed up at the 7 pm Ben Folds show at 7 pm. Ben, playing to a much younger crowd, goes on at 9:30.

Yeah, but have those youngsters given up old-school baseball ideology for sabermetrics to the extent Posnanski has?

Nicklas Lidstrom, I reckon, is the Belle and Sebastian of hockey: Always understated, sometimes overlooked, occasionally misunderstood, nonpareil.

05.16.09

There’s No Cheering (or Chair-Throwing) In The Press Box

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV, The Law at 3:55 am by

Spend a night out at, say, an Allman Brothers Band show, and not only do you miss out on an amusing hockey incident, but everybody’s already worked over the only point or joke to make. Neverthless, the story still needs posting, and I do swear on my journalistic ethics that I came up with the headline before seeing older tweets from @cupofchowdah or @puckdaddy. From the Los Angeles Times, via @mirtle:

Ducks General Manager Bob Murray was interviewed by Detroit police Thursday night but was not charged after a woman working as a TV stage manager at Joe Louis Arena said he hit her in the left chest, arm and shoulder with a chair after the Ducks’ 4-3 loss to the Red Wings in Game 7 of the teams’ second-round playoff series, according to an Internet report Friday.

The website, MyFoxDetroit.com, which is affiliated with Detroit TV station WJBK, said Rachel Paris, 55, was hit by the bar stool-like seat thrown by “an upset and angry Murray” in the press box. The cramped facility is shared by writers, broadcasters and TV crews. Those who work there use elevated seats to reach the elevated work table.

The website also said Paris, who wouldn’t disclose which media outlet employed her during the game, believed Murray vented his frustration at her because she had been rooting for the Red Wings.

“I was taken to the boards by Bob Murray and survived the hit. I felt like I was cross-checked and I didn’t even have the puck,” Paris told the website, which said she declined to file a formal complaint.

Murray denied throwing the chair at Paris.

“It was a complete accident,” he told The Times on Friday. “I’ve spoken with her and cleared it all up.”

A TV station person rooting for the team? Shocking, shocking stuff. That said, if you are a team employee and they stash you in the press box rather than a suite, you are also expected to keep your lack of neutrality to yourself, be it verbal or (allegedly) furniture-assaultive.

05.06.09

Portland LumberJax, R.I.P.

Posted in consumer affairs, Lacrosse, Sports Journalism at 3:45 pm by

Writing about the demise of Portland’s NLL team, the LumberJax, the Oregonian‘s John Canzano seems especially ungracious and misguided.

Ungracious, because… well, let me just perform a little surgery on a few excerpts:

The market does not lie. And sponsors decided minor league lacrosse that advertising in the daily newspaper wasn’t a must-have. So did regular families who have to make responsible decisions about where to spend their disposable income. I suspect those businesses and families would make a more ambitious decision if they felt what they were buying was grand….

According to the lacrosse team, sponsorship dollars fell more than $300,000 from a year ago. Which is only to say that businesses realized there were better places to spend. And so we’ve arrived at the moment in which the lacrosse team will begin looking for another home newspapers go out of business.

And misguided because elsewhere he implies the city’s planned new MLS team means that Portland no longer needs to trifle with the smaller sports. Which is fine, but let’s not pretend the MLS Portland Timbers or its AAA baseball sister franchise will be market-driven, profit-making entities – they are entities that might make money, a possibility that is still entirely dependent on whether or not the city helps them renovate the stadium and put together a new baseball park.

Obviously a lacrosse team isn’t going to get that kind of deal. Unless it’s owned by a bigger franchise (as in Colorado) or enjoys primary tenancy (as in suburban Chicago) most lacrosse teams basically exist for as long as their owners believe in what they’re doing and are willing to lose money, something that certainly describes Canzano’s ultimate boss Si Newhouse too. So it’s hardly a surprise this day would come. The team wouldn’t have existed without the economic boom (owner Angela Batinovich’s father is in REITs), so it can’t exist during the economic bust.

The Jax also benefited from starting while the Blazers were still loathed (not because of the Jail Blazers but rather the bankruptcy of Paul Allen’s arena holding company, and public threats to sell the team). Talk of trying to keep the franchise alive in Seattle actually makes sense, because you’ve got no in-season competition, with an empty building – even the junior hockey franchise has moved elsewhere -which might give the team a better deal. The LumberJax did have a quality product, but a niche product, and now they’ll need a business model that’s not based on the 2005 economy. After all, the NLL almost cancelled the whole season last year.

05.04.09

Anybody Got An Extra Ticket to Caps-Pens Game 5?

Posted in consumer affairs, Hockey at 7:01 pm by

Not for the first time, the Washington Capitals are doing their utmost to make sure only home fans can get tickets, based on the billing address and purchase history of buyers. From Dan Steinberg and the D.C. Sports Bog:

“We decided to take extra measures and it’s actually worked out to our advantage,” Jim Van Stone, the team’s vice president of ticket sales, told me. “We’ve done [the geo-mapping] from time to time through the years. This time, we ended up doing it at the start. We just want to make sure we continue to rock the red and give our fans locally the first chance to buy tickets. In today’s day and age, any password is going to get to anyone that wants to search and find it. This is just another assurance to make sure we protect the home ice, that people outside the market don’t buy tickets.”


(Photo via the PensBlog)

Indeed, the bandwagon wasn’t big enough to exclude this Flyers fan last season, even though Philadelphia is a whole lot closer to D.C. than Pittsburgh. I still get updates from Ticketmaster promoting Caps games every month, simply because I bought a pair to Round 1 Game 7 a year ago.

Of course, I don’t live in Philadelphia, and that’s my biggest problem with this policy. Do we not live in an age where people move around the country? An age where cable TV and Internet has made it possible for anyone to be a fan of any team? Do the Capitals not have some fans in New York City who might want to catch a game? What about some random hockey fan in say, Kentucky, who has made AO his favorite player? If the Flyers limited their ticket-buying map to PA/South Jersey/Delaware, where would that leave me? And how about Caps fans who are passionate enough to hit the road themselves? If everybody does this, every road fan loses.

Steinberg quotes a Caps message board post joking that the reason there were so few Pittsburgh fans on Saturday is they were still leaving Fed Ex Field (one of many football stadiums which Steelers fans have managed to take over) and that’s the thing: if you have a bad team and an unloved franchise, your fans will become scalpers if they can. If you have a winning team, then filling up the seats with loyalists should happen by itself. I’m sure the whole thing is a boon to ticket agents/Stub Hub sellers who have D.C. zip codes though.

04.17.09

I Almost Killed Steve Moore On Live TV, So I Know Just How You Feel

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV, Technical Difficulties at 9:56 pm by

From Tim Wharnsby of the cocksuckin’ Globe and Mail (h/t to Mirtle)

Reporter Roger Millions has been taken off the air for a few days after Rogers Sportsnet unintentionally aired an embarrassing outtake, according to network sources.

The Calgary-based correspondent was taping a pregame report prior to the NHL playoff series opener between the Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks last Thursday, when he uttered an obscenity after he messed up his presentation.

Somehow the outtake was not only filed back to network headquarters in Toronto, but was shown on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central at approximately 6:20 p.m. EDT. The faux pas sent shock waves through the all-sports network yesterday, prompting an internal memo from executive producer Mike English.

English’s message was that Millions was being humiliated worldwide on YouTube.com and other Internet sites because shortcuts were taken by others to get his report on the air…

Millions, 49, covered the practices of both the Flames and ‘Hawks at the United Center yesterday, but didn’t appear on-air. While visibly distraught at what happened, the long-time broadcaster politely declined to discuss what had transpired the night before.

Some of the Flames players joked with him about the incident, but they also demonstrated support for him.

œHey, you’re human, said Calgary forward Todd Bertuzzi, who has endured his share of controversy throughout his NHL career.

Do You Like Apples? Nobody Likes This Apple.

Posted in College Spurts, Greedy Motherfuckers at 6:03 pm by

When I heard the Apple Cup was moving to Qwest Field, the first thought in my head was pretty much like Rick Neuhiesel’s in 2002:

“I just think it would be a terrific 50-50 split for the state. I think it would be a great thing for the schools, like they have in Dallas with Oklahoma and Texas.”

Sure, why not. Neutral field. Off-campus game. Special event.

Except, of course, we aren’t talking about a stadium that’s three hours away from each of the two campuses, but rather, in the same city as one school. Tickets would still be split, and I’m sure there’s plenty of Wazzu alums who live west of Spokane and up and down I-5, but in the end, UDub fans and UDub students end up being the ones who scrape up all the extra tickets – especially since they don’t have to pay for gas or find accomodations – and still get to enjoy the basic comforts of a home game. Ironically, Qwest Field is actually smaller than Husky Stadium, though considerably bigger than the one in Pullman.

More from the article linked above:

The programs currently split revenue, realizing about $240,000 apiece when the game is played in Pullman and $800,000 when it is played in Seattle. Officials at WSU and UW have cited a financial boost varying from $6 million to $10 million apiece over the six-year life of the proposed deal, accruing primarily from slightly more than 30,000 tickets sold to each side.

Which essentially means UW has been subsidizing its rival this whole time. You could almost call it college football socialism. I mean, I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure Texas/Texas A&M and Ohio State/Michigan don’t split home revenue equally.

But if the surface story here is of an underfinanced farm school in Pullman putting itself at a competitive disadvantage as it’s further sucked into the vortex of overly commercialized college sports, in other ways the victims here are UDub’s alums and students. Road-tripping is half the fun of college football, and stadiums with character at least a quarter of it. Sure, I enjoy the atmosphere at Beaver Stadium, but my family’s trips to Madison and South Bend and Ann Arbor and Columbus and even L.A. Coliseum and the Orange Bowl are rarer and more memorable.

I also road-tripped up from Portland in 2007 to see Washington play USC, not because I cared about either team or expected a good game, but because I always wanted to take in that overhanging lakefront stadium, which I’d passed so many times while driving on highway.

But, blah blah blah, things change, money talks etc. Hopefully the two schools will become competitive in the Pac 10 while this is going on, because otherwise the extra revenue and guaranteed attention of the big-time “neutral” site could just serve as a cushion for continued mediocrity.

04.13.09

Whoops, There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 1:25 pm by

Harry Kalas, R.I.P.

He died with his mic on, so to speak, and I’m sure it will be said repeatedly that “at least he got to see the Phillies win another series,” but 73 is still too young. This sucks.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Harry Kalas, the Phillies’ Hall of Fame announcer, died at 1:20 p.m. today, the Phillies announced.

Mr. Kalas collapsed in the press box at Nationals Stadium in Washington at about 12:30 p.m. and was rushed to George Washington University Medial Center.

The cause of the death was not announced. Today’s game against the Nationals will be played, but the team will not visit the White House tomorrow.

Kalas, who was found unconsious, missed most of spring training after undergoing undisclosed surgery in Feburary. That surgery was unrelated to the detached retina that sidelined him for part of last season.

Kalas, who turned 73 on March 26, has broadcast Phillies games since 1971. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. He is entering the final season of a 3-year contract that he signed in December 2006.

Since the the Series, my text message ringtone has been Harry’s final out call. It’s loud and far too long and with the new season upon us, I was just about to dump it. Guess it’s staying for at least a shiva period.

Update And let me also add…. as a sometimes sports-journalist I’ve had occasion to cover the Phillies a few times, and while I’m not so jaded that I didn’t get a thrill out of standing in their dugout during BP in 2007, or huddling around then-manager Larry Bowa at spring training, work is work, and I am no more starstruck around athletes than I would be interviewing John Darnielle. But the last time I was in the Phillies press box, Harry passed me in the hallway, and it was all I could do not to giggle… and then burst into the broadcast booth to beg him for a voice mail message.

And, not to get all “they don’t make things like they used to,” but the days when an announcer was so woven into the fabric of one’s daily life and daily fandom certainly is dwindling. It starts with radio, of course – Harry and others like him weren’t just the voices of the game, but our entire picture of the game. Today’s 12 year-olds not only have TV whenever and wherever (about to watch the game on MLB.TV myself) but between the national broadcasts of one’s own team and the ability to watch so many broadcasts of other teams, the impact of any one broadcaster is diminished.

“Harry would want us to play,” says Gary Matthews just now, which was to be expected. Still gotta be tough for them to do this game though, even more than it might be for the players.

04.03.09

It’s a Bad Time to Apply for a New Credit Card

Posted in curling, Money at 5:15 am by

But how am I supposed to resist?

Personal to CSTB editorial office: clearly we have left an important sport out of the category options. I mean, it’s bound to be covered here at least as much as tennis.

Final Four Coverage: Filling the Void Left by “Men’s Vogue”

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Fashion, Sports Journalism at 5:02 am by

I guess people have been known to compare Jay Wright with George Clooney. No way. Dermot Mulroney.

Today the Villanova coach enjoyed some Super Bowl-like press coverage, which is to say, about the stuff that isn’t basketball. From Ashley Fox of the Philadelphia Inquirer:


The best-dressed man in college basketball, the one whom announcers routinely laud as dapper and debonair, has two closets in his bedroom, one for his suits (“about 30″), the other for his shirts, shoes and slacks. Organized by style. An outfit for every occasion.

Villanova’s coach has a deal with Hugo Boss and another with a local custom clothier, Gabriele D’Annunzio, who has hand-made for Wright about a dozen suits in the last three years, including the three Wright was planning to take with him to Detroit for this weekend’s Final Four.

Wright says he puts little thought into what he wears, but that can’t be altogether true. D’Annunzio uses the finest wool fabrics for the suits and tailors them to accentuate Wright’s broad shoulders. The shirts, with D’Annunzio’s signature piped breast pockets, have tall collars to account for Wright’s long neck and reflect a quarter-inch disparity between his arms. And Wright orders his size 13 leather shoes from a dealer in Atlanta.

And an added note from “Gonzo”:

While he was entertaining the media in the windowless, concrete Ford Field basement, John Feinstein from the Washington Post wandered over and joined the crowd. Wright, being Wright, put his arm around Feinstein and kept talking. A second or two later, Feinstein turned to Wright and interrupted him.

“Are you wearing cologne?” he inquired.

“Always,” Wright said.

“For practice?” Feinstein asked.

“I get up in the morning – I shave, I shower, I put on cologne,” Wright explained.

I’d say that there’s some crucial information missing here: what did Feinstein smell like?

03.31.09

Gun Violence Plagues Oregon Ducks Basketball Team

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Firearms, Lower Education at 7:04 pm by

And let me be (presumably) the thousandth person to suggest that if they have to hunt small animals, the beaver would more appropriate. From the Oregonian:

Three Oregon men’s basketball players were cited Monday night in Eugene’s Alton Baker Park for shooting BB guns at ducks and geese in the park’s pond.

Officers responded to a report of men shooting guns in the park at 11:08 p.m. and arrived to witness freshman forward Josh Crittle fire approximately 20 shots toward the pond with a BB gun, said Jenna LaBounty, a spokeswoman with the Eugene Police Department.

Crittle was cited along with fellow freshmen Michael Dunigan and Teondre Williams on an accusation of violating park rules, which carries a base fine of $155.

LaBounty said that when the officers approached, Dunigan tossed his weapon into the water, where officers found it. Williams’ weapon was also located by the six officers who responded.

Crittle, Dunigan and Williams were handcuffed, cited and released within 30 minutes late Monday.

LaBounty said it did not appear any animals were injured in the shooting.

Isn’t that always the way? When you’re driving to the pond, gun cradled, somebody’s hand up in your face, you somehow manage to get off the shot and make it. But when they’re sitting ducks…

03.27.09

Like the Versus Commercial Says, “Hockey Fans Are Not Like Other Fans”

Posted in Get Out Of Jail, Hockey at 3:52 pm by

This story seems have crashed the Columbus Dispatch for the moment, so, from SLAM! Sports and Sun Media:

According to a Columbus police report, a man wearing a Calgary Flames jersey has been arrested and charged with inducing panic after placing at least three threatening phone calls to the Blue Jackets — specifically targeting [rookie goaltender Steve] Mason — during Thursday’s 5-0 win over the Flames.

Charged with the misdemeanour, Peter Stenzel, 52, was picked up at his Dublin, Ohio, home.

“They got his number from caller ID, and it was given to special duty officers,” Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner told the Columbus Dispatch Friday.

“When they got to his residence, he was upset. He’s a passionate hockey fan.”

Security was on edge at the Nationwide Arena, and there was a beefed-up police presence because of the phone calls that came in between 7:45 and 8:11 p.m., between the end of the first period and start of the second.

Special-duty officers were placed around all the arenas entrances.

Sources told the Dispatch Stenzel threatened to “shoot” and “bomb” Mason during the game.

“It’s nice to see a fan who cares,” writes Deadspin. Hilarity!

03.26.09

Revenge is a Dish Best Served on Your Blog

Posted in Golf, History's Great Hook-Ups, Sports Journalism at 6:32 pm by

Here’s what CBS Sportsline’s Mike Freeman has to say about the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against him by pro golfer John Daly in 2005:

Now John Daly can return to what he does best: getting cut, getting drunk and getting fat.

Several years ago I wrote a column that called Daly something that was wholly true then and is even more accurate now. I called Daly a repugnant loser who is more scoundrel than hero. I blasted him for his treatment of women and his reckless lifestyle….

The victory is not just one for freedom of speech. Athletes should be held accountable for their deeds just like writers are held accountable for theirs.

Just as all of you are in your everyday lives.

So I’ll repeat what I said several years ago.

Daly is a disgraceful human being who, if he were Allen Iverson, would be despised and wouldn’t get the dozens of second chances he has received.

Is “Allen Iverson” some kind of code? I didn’t even know he was a golfer.

PS – On an unrelated note, if you’re not paying attention to those twitter widgets (twidgets?) on the righthand side below the ad, GC will be live from Boston shortly (and I’ll be on the couch).