Smizik : Please Avoid Bashing Lloyd

Posted in Baseball at 12:27 pm by

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik, skeptical of reports that Jim Tracy can walk on water, has had his fill of criticism of the Pirates’ previous manager.

Poor Lloyd McClendon. He has been thrown under the bus so many times by the media and his former Pirates players that his features are barely distinguishable amid all the tread marks.

It started earlier this winter when, in an interview with Tim Benz of ESPN Radio, Zach Duke was critical of McClendon’s communication skills. Say what? Duke was 8-2 with a 1.81 earned run average as a rookie last season. The only thing McClendon needed to say to him was this: “Here’s the ball,” which he did just about every five days.

The message coming out of Bradenton so far has been somewhat more subtle but nevertheless disparaging toward McClendon. Everything about spring training is better. The drills are crisper, the players happier, the teaching more passionate. With all the adulation being directed toward Jim Tracy, McClendon’s replacement, and new pitching coach Jim Colborn it seems as if the only thing that stood between the Pirates and respectability was Mac.

Funny, I thought the reason the Pirates finished tied for the worst record in the National League was because they finished 12th or lower (out of 16) in the following offensive categories: runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks and pinch-hitting batting average. I also thought it was because they finished 12th or lower in the following pitching categories: ERA, walks and hits per inning, strikeouts-to-walks ratio and opposing batting average.

Usually, when a team is so deficient in so many areas, it will find a way to the bottom without any help from the manager.

Though Smizik makes a good general point or two, McClendon’s record of 336-449 between ’01 and ’05 is the sort that might have any new manager looking good by comparision. Though McClendon surely wasn’t the only person responsible for the club’s stranglehold on last place, along with Kevin McClatchy and Dave Littlefield, he’s pretty high on the list.

The Wonderlic Tears : VY Smeared, Apologies Slow To Come

Posted in Gridiron, Racism Corner at 10:23 am by

After yesterday’s widely repeated reports that QB Vince Young had scored a pitiful 6 out of 50 on his NFL draft combine Wonderlic test, the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain writes that that Young’s total was actually 16. Certainly not a score likely to improve Young’s standing prior to the draft, but not evidence of “a learning disability” as one national talk radio creep chortled last night, either.

Writes crusader for truth Will Leitch,

Ignoring the fact that Wonderlic scores are supposed to be confidential — we repeat: Nothing ever ends up confidential. Nothing — we have to wonder about the grading skills of the “guy” in charge. If you’ve seen the sample Wonderlic test — which we encourage everyone to take — it’s difficult to understand how one could grade a test (particularly one so high-profile) so wrong. Strikes us as a bit fishy, actually.

Indeed, it’s almost as though someone has a stake in publicly humiliating Vince Young, negatively impacting his earning potential and worst of all, engage in the scurrilous practice of mocking the intellectual capacity of prominent black sportsmen.

Not that there was anything remotely provocative about a headline that read “If Your Wonderlic Score Is Lower Than Your Jersey Number.”

Ladies of Long Island, Take Note:

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 10:13 am by

“To say I’m a lot more mature at 30 than I was at 24 or 25 is an understatement.”

T-Wolves Fan Wins The Lottery

Posted in Basketball at 10:02 am by

I Heart KG is right on top of this incident at the Target Practice Center. We can only hope the injured party was helicoptered to the nearest medical facility.

Sultan Of Sloth Bails On Team Picture, Arm Feels Fab

Posted in Baseball at 9:47 am by

Kudos to Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe for resisting the temptation to say something about a wide-angle lens not being available.

Maybe he thought there was no reason to waste perfectly good film or digital space, but David Wells took a pass on the team’s annual Photo Day yesterday morning, when the players smile for a variety of cameras — including in-house photographers and baseball card shooters.

Wells, whose good-natured media boycott is now eight days and counting — he jokingly told Bob Holtzman of ESPN he’d do an interview ”after Manny” — wants to be traded by the Sox, so why pose for mugshots in a uniform he is planning to shed by Opening Day?

Wells still isn’t putting any weight on his surgically addressed knee, but ”his arm is fabulous,” according to manager Terry Francona.

There’s some tough talk from the Mets’ Bret Boone in Ken Rosenthal’s latest Fox Sports entry. Claiming “I’m not interested in hitting 14 home runs with 56 RBI’s, hitting .260,” (which, would represent something of a huge comeback for the second baseman), Boone says,

I’ve been at the top,” he says. “I’ve been one of the better second basemen. I’ve been one of the better players in the game. And I’m not interested in going back to where you look at me and say, ‘Good little player.’ I’ve been that guy before. I’m not interested in playing at that level.

As for Boone’s immediate future, only one thing appears certain: He will not be a backup. Either he returns to being the one player he once was, or, in his words, “I’m gone.”

“I came into this game playing every single day at second base,” Boone says. “That’s how I’m going to leave.”

Neil Warnock To Blades Supporters : Start Snitchin’

Posted in Football at 2:26 am by

Apparently, blowing a 2-1 home lead to QPR fosters paranoia at Bramall Lane. The Independent’s John Culley explains.

Sheffield United’s players have had better weekends. As if a second home defeat in three games were not enough, encouraging Watford and Leeds to believe they might yet deprive them of automatic promotion, they have also had to stomach the news that if they are spotted drinking in public between now and the end of April they will be fined two weeks’ wages.

What is more, manager Neil Warnock (above, left) is encouraging United fans to “shop” their heroes if they see them flouting the ban.

It follows a disturbance in a public house the day after United won the Sheffield derby the previous weekend in the wake of which United’s former Wednesday midfielder Alan Quinn was arrested.

Warnock said that Quinn, who is currently out of the side through injury, will be cleared of any wrongdoing and therefore escape disciplinary action. But he is so determined that nothing will undermine United’s Premiership ambitions Warnock will not allow his players into a pub even for a soft drink.

“I’ve spoken to a number of people about the incident and Alan is in the clear as far as I am concerned, even though going into a Wednesday pub was not the brightest thing to do the day after the derby,” Warnock said. “But none of my players will be going into a pub between now and the end of the season because you can get into trouble even if you are only drinking orange juice.”

The Celebrity Roast (In Hell) That No One Deserves

Posted in Baseball at 2:19 am by

MLB.com is flogging the DVD, “One Night In Februrary”, a roast of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa that poses the question, was anyone really waiting for Mike Gallego’s stand-up debut?

From the San Jose Mercury News’ Daniel Brown.

Though La Russa has managed the St. Louis Cardinals since 1996, the evening has a decidedly A’s flavor. Notable amateur comedians include Eckersley, Gallego, Carney Lansford, Dave Stewart, Dave Henderson, Terry Steinbach and Mark McGwire. Jose Canseco shows up, too, but only in punch lines.

Stealing the show, as usual, is Tommy Lasorda, who kills with a long windup about seeing Gallego in heaven with the ugliest woman he had ever seen. God tells him that it’s because Gallego wasn’t such a good guy on Earth; this is Gallego’s penance.

Later in heaven, Lasorda sees La Russa with Bo Derek.

“Lord,” Lasorda said. “Tony must have been really good.”

“No, Tommy,” God replied. “Bo was really bad.”

Unfortunately, not all of the 90 minutes are as witty. It drags at times, and some of the rambling stories appear fueled by what must have been a hefty bar tab.

Sadly, no invites for Steve Kline or Ruben Sierra, either.