Votto’s All-Star Shot: In Which This Phillies Phan/Cincinnati Magazine Writer Gave Charlie Too Much Credit

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 12:54 am by


The Reds arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow, by which point Joey Votto ought to be an all-star, thereby tripling the number of times announcers in both cities (and on Sportscenter) will say something about him sticking it to Phillies/NL skipper Charlie Manuel every time he gets a hit (perhaps they’ll also keep a Votto vs. Howard HR count, though the way things have been going for the Phillies this past month,Wilson “GIDP” Valdez is more likely to go yard).

Anyway, I’ve got an interview with Votto in the upcoming (August) issue of Cincinnati Magazine, which will include his thoughts on Albert Pujols (“I get a chance to watch one of the greatest offensive players of all time. Just because it will be just about impossible to ever get a starting spot in the All-Star Game…) and the fact that his DL stint may have kept him out of last year’s game (though given what just happened this year, who knows?).

And then there’s this little exchange, which won’t be in the magazine.

ME: I’ll say it, you don’t have to say it, but I can’t see Charlie Manuel picking his own guy, Ryan Howard, over you this year.

VOTTO: He had a really good game yesterday (June 18th). There’s another month or so. We’ve got plenty of time.


Nitpicking At My Former Texas Hockey Beat

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism at 1:56 am by

The Texas Stars got off to a remarkable start in the Calder Cup final, winning two games on the road against defending champion Hershey for a 2-0 series lead.

Unfortunately, they’ve now done something equally remarkable by dropping three straight home games (even at the highest level of the minors, teams cannot afford to play a 2-2-1-1-1 series).

The Austin American-Statesman‘s Avery Holton writes:

Hershey holds a 3-2 series lead and is a win away from becoming just the third team in league history to rebound from an 0-2 deficit in the title round….

And Texas knows a thing or two about coming up big on the road. They’ve closed out each of three postseason series away from home, including a 4-2 victory at Hamilton in Game 7 of the conference finals.

They now have to go a step further and win two on the road to claim the first professional hockey title of any kind in the history of the Austin area. The now-defunct Austin Ice Bats never reached the summit of the Western Professional Hockey League or the East Coast Hockey League, but the Central Texas Stampede did nab the WPHL crown for Belton in 2000.

Now, my first reaction when I read that, is it’s tenuous for Austin’s newspaper to even bring up the Stampede. I’m sure the Williamson County-based Stars do draw fans from the Belton/Killeen/Temple area (some of whom I’m certain I know personally), but hey, let the Temple Daily Telegram worry about that.

Then I realized that the sentence had a bigger problem: the Shreveport Mudbugs beat the Stampede for the 2000 WPHL crown. The Stampede merely won the Governor’s Cup for best regular season record – as did the Ice Bats in 2003.

And what’s up with the reference to the East Coast Hockey League? It’s certainly true the Ice Bats never reached the ECHL summit, since they were never a member of that circuit (presumably he meant the Central Hockey League, which still has five teams in Texas).

Now, I know mistakes get made on deadline all the time, especially with an OT game. I’ve made them myself (and not just writing about hockey). It’s just that they get printed that much more when it’s an oft-neglected beat. If I accidentally confused Kris Brown with Phil Dawson in an article about Texas football, there’d be half a dozen editors (maybe even Texas Exes) there to bail me out. But with hockey, the fact that no one knows can sometimes feel like no one cares.

And at this point in sports media, it’s basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. Playoff final sell-outs and the sudden appearance of Cedric Golden aside, there still aren’t enough Austin hockey fans reading the newspaper to justify a full-time beat writer (and yes, I certainly wish such a job existed so I could have said job), but now there never will be, ’cause they’ll stick to blogs and message boards and Twitter.


Which Might Well Be How I’d Feel About “Are We Winning?”

Posted in Hockey, Will Leitch Sucks at 11:02 pm by

I tweet too much and post too little to do what GC is doing, but, as promised: From the Twitter of one @williamfleitch.

Playoff hockey is unbearably intense. So much so that it’s almost not enjoyable. Almost.

Least disappointing Flyers playoff loss of my adult life, incidentally. Bad as Game 5 was, and weird as this one ended, not stealing Game 1 or Game 2 is when the series really got away from them.


ESPN Chicago on the Flyers: “We’re Not So Smart”

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey at 5:05 am by

(Member of a Brooklyn rock band, or Finnish hockey player?)

I guess ESPN’s foray into local markets also means publishing old-fashioned homer trash-talk, not that I am anything other than amused. From ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg.

Sure, mathematical probability was, and still is, against the Flyers, but does this team look like it is book smart? If you asked half the Flyers what comes after two, they’d probably say “cat.”

Oh, c’mon now – you can say that sort of thing about Daniel Carcillo if you must, but Chris Pronger is obviously bright. His press conference skills are almost Ari Fleischer-esque.

Anyway, having watched Game 1 in non-HD while parked in a recreational vehicle in Coeur D’Alene, ID, and then just a little more than half of Game 2 thanks to the largesse of a fellow sports fan (though not Flyers fan) and band manager at Sasquatch!, I couldn’t have enjoyed being at home to watch Game 3 any more, and am still smiling about it. Overtime! First Flyers win in a Cup final game since 1987! Scott Hartnell: best pass ever! Plus he bears a disturbing resemblance to Mick Hucknall! (lose the ponytail, Hartsy). Ville Leino, the new John Druce!

Of course, until they win Game 4, I don’t really expect the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup, but I haven’t expected them to win a round all spring, so hey, whatever works. Plus it’s a good time to pretend the Phillies don’t exist.


Pronger + Down Goes Brown + Schopenhauer= Hockey Comedy Gold

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey at 6:03 pm by

I’m as amused as anyone about the “controversy” over Chris Pronger stealing game pucks. And I certainly appreciate a little dickish gamesmanship. But even as a Flyers fan it’s hard not to agree with Michael Wilbon (as tweeted by @BluntChick):

“You’re down 0-2! You want to do something with the puck? Put it in the net clown!”

Still, anyone who truly takes offense will find themselves redressed by Down Goes Brown, which documents the big defenseman’s “Other Jerk Moves” (what, you can’t say “dick”)?

Sadly, this sort of behaviour isn’t new for Pronger. In fact, throughout his career he’s become notorious for a series of incidents in which his actions were inappropriate, unprofessional, and just downright mean.

It’s a must-click, so I will offer just two highlights:

Caused a long delay during a 1998 game when he claimed to suffer a brief cardiac arrest after being hit with a slapshot directly above the heart, as if he has one.

During NBC telecasts of Flyers games, constantly leans over to Pierre McGuire and says “I don’t think they can hear you, maybe try speaking louder.”


There’s No Cheering in the Press Box Because It’s Empty: “Cincinnati” magazine on Hal McCoy

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:41 pm by

My old employer has published a lengthy profile of semi-furloughed Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy. Former New York Observer/Sports Illustrated scribe Sridhar Pappu touches heavily on issues like the death of newspapers, the decline of the Reds’ regional appeal (which has traditionally included parts of Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky), Pete Rose and the “obstinate babble” of sports blogs and Twitter.

So I guess if we’re tossing around blogosphere cliches, I’ll highlight the part where Joe Morgan is a dick (even when he’s holding one):

According to McCoy, he and Joe Morgan have not spoken since 1979, when he wrote that the Big Red Machine™s era was over and Morgan was no longer needed. Since then the two have been alone in elevators, stood next to each other at the urinal, and played doubles tennis against one another without ever speaking a word. When McCoy received the Spink Award during the induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, he says Morgan said hello to his entire family but brushed by him when Hal stuck out his hand. (Morgan, who now works as an analyst for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, still refuses to speak about McCoy. But he insists, œI did congratulate him [at] the Hall of Fame.)


SI.com and Cincinnati’s Daugherty: Also 20 Years Behind Slats Grobnik

Posted in Baseball, Food at 7:52 pm by

Following up on Thursday’s post about the Cincinnati Reds: in a short item about ballpark food (including gluten-free, a story that our own GC was right on top of), The Big Money‘s Dan Mitchell revives the 1989 Mike Royko column about serving sushi at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, . which can be found at the Orlando Sentinel as well.

…when historians study the decline and fall of the once-great nation known as the United States, they will pinpoint April 1989 as being the beginning of the end….

And they will be able to look to Southern California to see where it began.

More precisely, to San Diego.

And even more specifically, to Jack Murphy Stadium, where the San Diego Padres play baseball.

They will find that in April 1989 the San Diego Padres became the first major league franchise in the long history of America’s great national pastime to sell – brace yourselves – sushi to the fans.

Yes, sushi in the ball park!

Strips of raw or marinated fish, wrapped around a ball of rice with maybe a dab of fish eggs on top – the preferred snack of the yuppiest of yuppies.

I should be surprised, but I’m not. I see now that it was inevitable.

Years ago, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, I complained to my good friend, Slats Grobnik.

”Slats,” I said, ”this is a bad thing for the country. Some day they will be selling sushi in ball parks.”

He said, ”What’s sushi?”

I said, ”I don’t know. But mark my words, Slats, it is sure to happen.”

Royko especially enjoyed attacking San Diego, having feuded with its fans during the ’84 NLCS.


Former Syracuse Basketball Player Now Works for Dan Snyder

Posted in Football at 7:36 pm by


Donovan McNabb to the Redskins for a second rounder and a pick next year.

And so it is that for the next ten years, whenever someone on a message board says “teams NEVER trade within their own division,” we’ll have this. And if the Redskins win the NFC and Kevin Kolb’s a bust, everyone will then respond, “and look how well that trade worked out.”


SI.com’s Daugherty: Sushi in Cincinnati? Goetta Outta Here!

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Food at 7:53 pm by

“When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.”

Many people in my former residence of Cincinnati take exception to this most likely apocryphal Mark Twain quote. But not, apparently, Paul Daugherty, who is horrifed at the Great American Ballpark’s latest food concession – y’know, the one that’s been available in other cities now for years.

The Cincinnati Reds are selling sushi at Great American Ball Park this year, and all we can know about that is, nothing says hardball in Cincinnati quite like a smoked salmon roll. Pete Rose is rolling over in his seat at the racetrack.

American soldiers saved the world on a diet of canned Spam. The Big Red Machine ran on Wheaties, Red Man and greenies. There is nothing in either narrative that mentions sesame ginger crab rolls, with a side of edamame.

This is going to take some getting used to. It’s not that Cincinnati isn’t cosmopolitan enough to enjoy an occasional eel roll. It’s just that not that long ago, we were eating head cheese.

We still consume 99 percent of all goetta made. According to Wikipedia, goetta is “a peasant food of German origin,” made of pork shoulder and oatmeal. We enjoy it. It’s not the greatest of distinctions. But it’s something.

Sushi? I don’t know. I really don’t.

Daugherty goes on to make rote references to Chardonnay and San Francisco while lamenting the decline of the real baseball fan, which I suppose is fair enough, but what does it really matter if it’s sushi, Danny Meyer or the Build-a-Bear workshop? Personally, I’ve never understood why people want to wait in longer lines for lesser quality good food – better to just stick with peanuts and go get a proper cheesesteak (or California roll) after.

And goetta, incidentally, is awesome: here’s my recipe.

One other note – while it’s common to mispell the city’s name as “Cincinatti,” here’s how the photo caption for this story read as of 8:30pm EDT:

“True baseball fans in Cinncinnai aren’t interested in sushi; they like beer and hot dogs at games.”


Soon, “Fail Blazers” Will Be Back in Vogue

Posted in Basketball, Portland at 12:41 am by

If Paul Allen really didn’t care about his basketball team, he would have watched the Sounders take on Philadelphia, right?

The Blazers’ owner issued a largely worthless statement to the press before the Portland-Dallas game, and while some commenters on the Oregonian‘s web site seemed inexplicably content, columnist John Canzano witnessed several restless moments at the game:

I asked him at the end of the first half, as he headed into the room he uses as an office, if he’d mind going stronger with the comments on Pritchard.

The Blazers owner waved me off and shook his head. I asked him if there was anything more he wanted to say to Blazers fans. He hurried off, waving his hands and shaking his head. He finally nudged one of his private security guards and pointed at me before disappearing into a room with a small group that included Vulcan executive Bert Kolde (above), who was puffing his chest out at me.

After the door closed, a second security guard turned to me and said, “Keep writing what you write.”

Funny moment, that one. Because elsewhere in the arena during the game, a couple dozen fans were holding up “Fans (heart) KP” signs, pointing them toward the court. An usher came up and told them to point the signs toward the TV cameras to their right. And they did.

How long before Ari Fleischer is employed by Vulcan?