Sunday, May 27, 2007

Why They Oughtta...

Bud Selig oughtta stop waffling and announce he's going to be at the ballpark when Barry Bonds cracks #756. The longer he waffles, equivocates, and generally says nothing at great length on the issue, the more of a story he is. If he wants this to go away, he should say he's going there. Period.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays ougtta do two things with Elijah Dukes: Make sure he gets help, and get him off the field. If half the allegations against Dukes are accurate, then he's one dangerous, messed-up dude, and exactly the wrong sort of person to be representing the Tampa Bay franchise as it attempts to redefine its identity in a tough market. I saw Dukes play at Durham last year, and his talent is obvious and immense...but it's just baseball. If he really is threatening his wife's life, then baseball should be the last of anyone's concerns. Yes, Dukes is most assuredly innocent until proven guilty. That being said, right now he is at very best a distraction and a lightning rod for criticism, and it would be in both his best interest and the interest of his employers to get him out of the spotlight.

The New York Yankees oughtta be very, very worried, because the Red Sox are running away with the AL East despite the fact that Manny Ramirez and J.D. Drew are hitting like Lou Merloni with a hangover. Sooner or later they're going to heat up, and then the Boston lineup is going to get really, really scary. On the other hand, the Yankees' offense is being carried in large part by their 35 year old catcher. That sort of thing tends not to work terribly well over the long term.

Various members of the Texas Rangers oughtta be picking up cardboard boxes and address labels, because one way or another this team is going to be blown up, real soon. For all of the promise of players like Texeira, Blalock and the like, they've never jelled into a winning team (see: Phillies, comma, Philadelphia) and they've already slipped over the hump into diminishing-returns-land. Expect the big names to be gone while GM Jon Daniels tries to remake the team to save his job - or get it ready for his successor.

Rod Barajas oughtta learn that the key word in "getting the tag down" is "down".

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Celtics Fans...

Get over it. The NBA lottery worked exactly as it was supposed to - as a lottery, and as a deterrent against teams deliberately tanking their seasons to get higher draft picks. You didn't get #1 or #2? Such is the bounce of the ball. You also didn't get #12.

Next year, try harder.

And as much as I love The Sporting News, whoever green-lit that Simmons-esque phantasmagoria on "What if the Celtics had gotten Tim Duncan?" really needs to get outdoors and watch some baseball. "What If" barely worked for Marvel Comics; there's no real place for it in the world of sports.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hardball Notes

  • Jason Giambi is an idiot. One can applaud his "desire to come clean", if that's what you want to call it, but to me it seemed like the finger-wagging of the teacher's pet who thinks he's gotten away with one. Surprise, surprise, he hasn't. Let's run through the timeline here - Jason apparently does PEDs, Jason signs a huge contract that's suspiciously devoid of PED language, Jason gets mysteriously sick, Jason starts hitting better but not as well as he did, Jason is beloved because he sorta kinda admitted he might have done something he ought not to have. Follow that with "Jason thinks he can get away with the moral high ground" and "Jason doesn't look like he's going to give back any of the money," and you can see why I'm at least mildly suspicious of his motives. Of course, the Yankees are now looking to sever his contract for that non-admission of steroid use, in which case he'll have only gotten away with an $80M fast one, and not a $123M fast one.
  • Sunday night, Joe Morgan confidently announced that the reason the Yankees aren't scoring runs is because Gary Sheffield is in Detroit. With apologies to the fine gents at FireJoeMorgan, No. The reason the Yankees aren't scoring runs is that Johnny Damon is hitting like Bob Zupcic and Bobby Abreu is hitting like Zupcic's anemic little sister. The middle of the Yankee's lineup isn't suffering. It's the top of the order that's not extending at-bats or getting on base, and without that, you face better pitchers longer and you don't score runs. Gary Sheffield can't drive in Abreu and his .246 BA if Bobby's butt is on the bench after another weak grounder to third.
  • Incidentally, I wonder how the WEEI crowd is feeling about all those calls for Theo Epstein's head when he refused to break the bank for Damon. Working in sports talk radio means never having to say you're sorry.
  • Personally, I'm just waiting for Ozzie Guillen to call in to Dr. Laura. That, I would pay good money to listen to.
  • Thousands of little kids are going to do serious injury to their rib cages trying to imitate Tim Lincecum's pitching motion. Either that, or they're going to add a pop, lock, and robot to their followthrough, because his motion is the closest thing to breakdancing on the mound that I've seen.
  • Who the heck is Greg Dobbs, and why is he starting at first base for the Phillies? Never mind that, the answer is "because the alternative is Wes Helms".
  • To future generations, 2007 will go down as "the season of the overprivileged aging veteran". Clemens gets to do whatever it is he's doing - nobody seems able to agree on that, though Jayson Stark's piece on the contract negotiations was a bit more pollyannaish than I'm used to reading from him. Any attempt to spin that contract as "not that bad" runs aground on the rock of "$18M for part of a season".
  • Yes, Gil Meche is pitching well so far. However, there's plenty of time left for him to turn back into, well, Gil Meche.
  • Funny how the guy keeping the Dodgers' rotation afloat was the one whom Paul DePodesta traded for in a deal that the local media pilloried. Chirp, say the crickets. Chirp, chirp.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Solar Eclipse

Normally I don't actually care about the NBA playoffs, but the frontier justice going down in the Phoenix-San Antonio series is too ridiculous to let go. On one side, we have the "classy" Spurs, led by noted cheap shot artist Bruce Bowen and flopper extraordinaire Manu Ginobili. So far, their tally for the series is one face shot, one calf shot, one nut shot, and one cheap shot into the scorers table, though presumably hip-checking Steve Nash into the possession arrow wasn't why Robert Horry has earned the nickname "Big Shot Bob".

On the other side, we have the Phoenix Suns, the only team in professional sports with a luggage tag on their uniforms (well, besides the last couple of years of the Expos, but that was entirely different), who will be without two of their best players for game 5 of the series because said players couldn't figure out that the rules about leaving the bench for a fight mean "don't leave the bench if there's a fight."

Whatever the outcome, the series' credibility is already shot. Yes, the NBA was right to enforce their rule on leaving the bench and ding Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw. Hell, after the shot Amare took to the back of his leg from Hong Kong Phooey Bowen, he could probably use the night off. However, "We have to enforce the rules" loses its power as a rationale when, for the rest of the series, those same rules haven't been enforced. If Bowen is making like he's doing a live-action version of Lunch Money, then he should be penalized for it. Not to put too fine a point on it, NBA, but more people want to see Nash and Stoudamire than want to see "They Call Me Bruce". Protecting him at the expense of two off your more valuable assets - not to mention the possibility of letting weird disciplinary inconsistency run the one exciting team left in the playoffs off to the golf course - is bad for business in every direction. It reinforces the notion that the playoffs are rigged (never mind that if they were, they should be rigged in the larger market's favor. We're talking perception here). It deprives the fans of players they want to see. It makes the basketball - and make no mistake, this is the only good basketball being played right now - less interesting. And it makes the league look goofy at a time when it should be looking its best.

So my advice to the Suns is to have the last guy on your bench clock Timmy D. - and you don't think Joey Crawford is laughing his tucchis off over this, do you - and see what happens. The suspensions just might even out.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I think they call this an abusive relationship...

For years, media types have been getting on baseball because the MLB amateur draft is not televised. Televise it, they said. Let people see the prospects! Get them excited about the rookies of tomorrow! Build the league's image! Give someone else besides Mel Kiper Jr. a chance to talk!

This year, MLB is partnering with ESPN to televise the draft. While it will surely not live up to the multi-month masturbatory frenzy of pseudo-informed blather on nickel backs out of Alcorn State that is the NFL Draft, it just might do some PR good, show off college baseball a bit more, and introduce fans to guys whose names they might be hearing one of these days.

Needless to say, MLB is getting roasted for this because, hey, who knows who these high school and college baseball players are?

That's the point gentlemen, and the reason you were agitating for this very thing not so long ago.The mind, it boggles.

Take the Baseball, Leave the Cannoli

And with the signing of Roger Clemens, the other shoe has dropped. What can only be called FatToadGate II has banished ineffective Japanese import Kei Igawa to...single A.

One can only assume that A)Steinbrenner had to be talked out of simply having Igawa shot and dumped in a landfill in Perth Amboy and B)the news was delivered by someone who's middle name is "the" rather than Brian Cashman.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Oh, Tony

Tony LaRussa, moments before driving his SUV out of Minas Tirith

Let it be said that everyone at Sportsthodoxy agrees that the untimely death of Josh Hancock is a sad thing, and on that level, it frankly doesn't matter than he was legally drunk when his vehicle slammed into a parked tow truck. No matter what, he's gone.

That being said, Tony LaRussa is the absolute last person on earth, with the possible exception of Eddie Griffin, who should be trying to take the moral high ground in a discussion on driving while impaired. If TLR had the sense God gave a star-nosed mole, he'd realize how damn lucky he was that he just fell asleep at the wheel during his little DUI moment instead of pancaking himself against a Jersey barrier somewhere, and use this to lead a positive change in baseball culture. Instead, he's doing his best impression of late-period Denethor, and that just can't be a good thing.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Roger, Roger

Roger's a Yankee? No f-f-f-foolin'...

In space, no one can hear Michael Kay scream. And that may be the only place people aren't hearing about Roger Clemens once again forming up his schilltron at the behest of the burgomeister of the Bronx, George Steinbrenner.

For four months of labor (possibly five), for a prorated wage of $28.5M. Since it's prorated, it's only going to be about $18M, but who's counting? What matters is that he's the highest paid Yankee, he gets perks that just a little while back Joe Torre was swearing no Yankee would ever get, and the Yankee fanbase has been energized with the thought that ritually sacrificing Darrell Rasner will allow them to appease the gods and reach the playoffs. After all, Clemens is back, and he's the greatest ever, right?

Well, yeah, but he's old and getting older. He's not going to be facing the Pirates anymore. He's got to deal with DHs like Big Papi instead of pitchers like Tom Gorzelanny taking their hacks. And he's a 6 inning pitcher, which, considering the way Joe Torre handles a bullpen, is like handing a pyromaniac an old Def Leppard album and a can of kerosene, and telling him to do what comes natural.

The media will no doubt continue to lionize Clemens for doing things that any other athlete would get skewered for. He'll no doubt win some games and be better than the Kei Igawas of the world. But color me crazy, I'm not quite ready to hand the Yankees the AL East yet.

Not until someone gives Joe Torre a copy of Adrenalize, anyway.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

This Sort of Thing Never Happens on Miami Bink...

Nothing beats mixing college students, bodily desecration, and lawsuits to make the transition back to civilian life from one's honeymoon that much smoother. Deadspin alerts us to the reaction of the aforementioned admixture thusly:

[Jason] Harris, a 20-year-old college student who had never previously gotten a tattoo, headed for The House of Ink in St. Louis, where he wanted the words "St. Louis Cardinals, World Series Champions, 2006" inked on his back. However, according to a negligence lawsuit Harris just filed, the resulting fist-sized tattoo was marred by errors for which he now wants in excess of $25,000 in damages....In an interview, Harris told [The Smoking Gun] that instead of "2006," the year 2000 was inked between his shoulder blades (the New York Yankees won the World Series that year). And the word "World" was misspelled as "Worlb."

Well, it's comforting to see J. Danforth Quayle's landed on his feet, at any rate. On a more sober note, the unfolding of this Lifetime-movie-worthy tragedy is steadily ensuring that no one involved will come out looking at all good. From the official complaint document (Page 2, TSG):

...Defendants' agent and servant [that'd be Rocco, the tattooist, we presume] due to negligence and carelessness incorrectly spelled words and put the wrong year on Plaintiff's person causing severe damage to plaintiff's body....

The wrong year would be 2000. Instead of 2006, i.e. last year, specifically October, when the Cardinals -- the baseball team based in St. Louis, mind you, the very same metropolis in which the tattoo parlor is located; I mean, this isn't some back-alley ink joint in Jakarta we're talking about -- won the World Series. The run-up to which presumably had signs all over the freakin' place, with the "D" prominent. And a parade to cap it off, we're presuming.

Now, in the defendant's, erm, defense, one could easily understand the inkologist's confusion. We watched that World Series, and we too have severe cognitive trouble processing how exactly in the Wide Wide Worlb of Sports the Cardinals came out victorious. Nonetheless, they did, and for that fact alone it would seem that Messr. Harris has Sully's House o' Needles over the proverbial barrel. Until, of course, one delves further into the basis for the complaint:
...Plaintiff had a right to rely on Defendant's, and Defendant's agents and servants...representations of superior knowledge, education, skill and learning ordinarily used by those individuals in their profession.

I'm hardly a lawyer, but the "right to rely" on the "superior knowledge, education, skill and learning" displayed by the average product of the Missouri public school system that finds gainful employment at a tattoo parlor might not be as solidly grounded in case law as our plaintiff thinks. Particularly not if the complaint document filed contains multiple misplaced apostrophes, an unclear capitalization issue, a missing serial comma, and a tautology in the space of 2 paragraphs. Apparently, Plaintiff and Defendant share the same legal firm:

There's the wrong way to do things, and then there's the Sebben & Sebben wrong way.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wide Receivers

In acquiring Randy Moss, the Patriots seem to be taking a page out of the Eagles' playbook. You know, the one that says "grab the insanely talented head case wide receiver, get one good year out of him, and then devil take the hindmost." I mean, it certainly looks that way, and Terrell Owens, for all his faults, never did anything to compare with nudging a cop with an SUV. Yeah, sure, everyone says the New England system will tame the wild receiver, but that's what they were saying about Andy Reid and the Eagles' system before Owens turned West Chester into a three ring circus.
The crucial difference, though, is that Moss appears to have been humbled. There was no bidding war for his services. Even punchless Green Bay wasn't interested. Contrast that with the insane frenzy that surrounded Owens' tortuous sojourn to Philly, including a rescinded trade and a sequence of events that basically had Owens himself calling the shots. Moss took a pay cut; Owens got a renegotiation. Owens was coming from a recently successful team in San Francisco; Moss was coming from years on a team as bad as any the league has ever seen.
So maybe the Patriots got it right when the Eagles got it wrong. Maybe the Patriots are (gasp!) the untouchable Yankees of the NFL and the Eagles are the (shudder) Red Sox, the eternal not-quites whose brilliant ideas keep tripping on reality.
And maybe someone will just shut up and play football for a change. But I doubt it.


So Carolina cut Keyshawn Johnson and replaced him with...essentially Keyshawn Johnson. This one was a no-brainer. Dwayne Jarrett is the same sort of player Keyshawn is - a big, slow possession receiver who uses his body well. The USC connection means nothing, but the fact is that Johnson's on his way down and Jarrett is on his way up, and if you have to choose between those two, you go for up every time. Right now, Keyshawn might be better, but odds are he won't be for long. Keeping him because he's better at this instant would be a mistake; the games aren't being played at this instant, and each successive game is going to get further along the timeline where those two performance curves diverge. Youth should be served, at least in this instance.

And in ten years or so, someone else is going to do it to Dwayne Jarrett. But that's the deal, and always has been.
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