Ben Schwartz Celebrates The Cubs’ Successful, Meaningless Weekend

Posted in Baseball at 3:33 am by

(Carlos Zambrano won his 9th straight decision on Sunday)

Taking 4 from the Redbirds has done little to improve Ben Schwartz’ mood.

Just another day at Wrigley: a four game sweep of the Cardinals, a former Cub inducted into Cooperstown, talk of trading a future Hall of Famer because we’ve just got so much talent to burn, and everyone’s counting the days to October.

Actually, the sweep was the first four game sweep of the Cards since 1972, if I can go by the WGN booth, and the October talk is mostly about whether Dusty Baker will be fired or not (right, Hendry still hasn’t made up his mind yet). The real news this weekend at Wrigley appears to be the introduction of The James Gang’s “Funk #49” into the between innings play list. Given the choice, I’ll take Walsh over Buffett (if that’s the choice). Also weird was hearing WGN plug Lollapallooza’s Grant Park shows, and hearing the name Sonic Youth during a Cubscast.

What can you say as a Cub fan … it’s one of those years when you know by July you’re out of it, so sweeping the Cards two times in a year at Wrigley is about as good as its going to get. As far as the Maddux trade goes, it’s a lot of trying-to-be-polite double talk. Dusty and Hendry have made it clear, in every venue they can, that they aren’t looking for a deal. Maddux deserves real respect — so you actually have to call them. It’s kind of like E-Bay, but you can’t bid in increments of .50. The way to make clear you’re not looking to lose Maddux is to say “No.” And Maddux is equally passionate about staying, telling the Trib, “Jim [Hendry] has to do what’s best for the organization, and if that’s trading me, I’m happy to go, and if that’s keeping me, I’m more than happy to stay.” The way Dusty talks, the best thing the Cubs have to look forward to in ’06 is Carlos Lee leaving the NL.

After the game St. Louis confirmed their acquisition of 2B Rafael Belliard from the Indians in exchange for 2B Hector Luna. This is really gonna hurt Junior Spivey’s feelings.


Goat Alert : Jenks, Lidge

Posted in Baseball at 4:18 pm by

Orioles 8, White Sox 7

I’m sure there’s a lot of people in Chicago who’d like to see Cor3y Patterson hit with a pitch. Trouble is, most of ’em are Cubs fans.  There’s probably someone in Baltimore who’d like to see Miguel Tejada hit with a pitch, but enough about Peter Angelos.  Not exactly a heroic afternoon in Charm City for Javier Vazquez (above), who again once again, hit the wall, big time after his pitch count passed 75. Nor did Neil Cotts or Bobby Jenks cover themselves in glory. It was a  heck of a way to squander a 5 RBI day for Jermaine Dye, a yet another opportunity lost to gain ground on New York, Detroit or Minnesota.

Arizona 7, Houston 6

Roger Clemens’ Sunday line : 7 IP, 9 K’s, 2 hits, no runs…and sure enough, a no decision. Conor Jackson’s 2 run HR off Brad Lidge in the 9th inning gave Arizona a 7-5 lead.  Earlier, Eric Brynes hit a 3 run HR off Chad Qualls.  Brynes made a tremendous running catch with two out in the bottom of the 9th and Adam Everett on 2nd representing the tying run, robbing Brad Ausmus of extra-bases.  Jorge Julio picked up his 13th save…and Lidge’s trade value (presuming there’s even a chance of his being dealt in the next half day) seems to drop every time he touches a baseball.

Franchise F.C. Cancels The Buffet

Posted in Food, Football at 2:26 pm by

The Independent’s Tim Collings wonders why Martin Allen would leave Brentford for Milton Keynes Dons. Obviously, he’s not seen the toilets at Griffin Park. Allen, however, describes his first days on the new job.

After a further chat, about budgets, ambitions and players, during which Allen (above) was assured that his wish-list was within the chairman’s price range, they reached agreement. Since then, Allen has recruited six players and is hunting for one more, but some have gone.

Two of the departed left swiftly, having failed to attend meetings to discuss their futures. He knew he had to act decisively. “If they couldn’t make their way in to see the new manager of a club that was just relegated, then I could not see they would be dedicated to turning this club around,” he said.

That was followed by the axing of the players’ buffet lunch. “The chairman here is very generous,” said Allen. “But we are just one division from the Conference… I think they needed a reality check. There was no food at Barnet [where Allen was manager for two years] or Brentford. It was all brought in. And that didn’t stop us…

“This was a challenge, to see if they were with you or not. I opened the doors into their room and took a look – and there they were with their Tupperware boxes with sandwiches, fruit salads, yoghurts, rice and pasta salads. There was a real buzz. For me, the manager, it was a joy to see. There was no sulking and moaning and they understood my reason.

Stark : Abreu, Lidle Salaries Dumped On The Yankees

Posted in Baseball at 2:06 pm by

From ESPN.com :

The Yankees will send the Phillies 20-year-old minor-league shortstop C.J. Henry — their No. 1 pick in 2005 — and 27-year-old left-handed reliever Matt Smith, in exchange for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. The Phillies will also pick one other minor-league player from an agreed-upon list, while the Yankees will take on responsibility for Abreu and Lidle’s contracts. Abreu is owed $15 million for 2007 alone.

Abreu has a full no-trade clause in his contract and has the right to accept or reject the deal. In the past his agent has said any team trading for Abreu would have to pick up his $16 million option for 2008 to get him to waive the no-trade clause. However, Abreu himself recently has backed off that stance.

Abreu was pulled from the lineup
prior to the first game of the Phillies’ twinbill with the Marlins.

Chase Utley’s 4th inning double in the above contest — Philly’s up, 5-2 — extended his hitting streak to 30 games.

Sherman To Rocket : You Fucked Up

Posted in Baseball at 1:53 pm by

Depite having not allowed more than 2 earned runs in any of his ’06 starts for Houston, Roger Clemens’ return to the Astros, while undoubtedly lucrative, has done little to add to his legacy, nor vault Houston back into contention. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman rubs it in.

Faced with a four-team field from which to choose, The Rocket un-retired to the club looking the worst as the trade deadline neared.

However, Houston GM Tim Purpura said “zero” when asked if he either had considered dealing Clemens before tomorrow’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline or if the fickle righty had asked to be moved to avoid the risk of pitching in meaningless games in what is now his fourth “retirement season.”

Nevertheless, the Rangers called recently just to make sure, and the Yanks and Red Sox have stayed in touch, as well. Before signing May 31, Clemens had narrowed his final choice to Houston and Boston, and he threw such bouquets at the Red Sox upon signing with the Astros that a few executives spoken to in the last week said they wouldn’t be surprised to see Clemens wind up with Boston again. Clemens had liked the idea of mending fences in Boston, and finishing his career where it started and potentially going into the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox.

In an e-mail exchange, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein would not divulge any of Boston’s plans. Officials from other clubs cited Epstein among the most active GMs. One AL executive said “it is interesting the stuff he is trying to get done.”

The Astros were working hard to land either Alfonso Soriano or Miguel Tejada with the idea of sparking a feeble offense and, potentially, appeasing Clemens. But perhaps the industrious Epstein could acquire a power hitter and turn that hitter into Clemens. However, the Red Sox and Orioles have not re-generated their Tejada talks from the offseason.

Arizona have an early 1-0 lead on Clemens and the Astros today at Ken Lay Memorial Field, Luis Gonzalez scoring on Chad Tracy’s first inning double.

Despite leaving yesterday’s win over the Braves after taking a pitch off his right knee, the Mets’ Carlos Delgado (above, right) has 3 RBI’s so far today, two of ’em coming on a first inning, 2-run HR off Chuck James. Carlos Beltran hit a line-drive, grand slam into the left-field seats a shot time later, and New York leads Atlanta, 8-3 in the bottom of the 3rd. We’ve heard no chants of “bring in Baez” but that’s only because they’re a spiritual bunch at Turner Field.

With Bruce Sutter being inducted into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum today, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan would like to see Bill James and Buck O’Neil enter the same rarified air. While I have no argument with either man’s qualifications, for James, the dilemma is obvious. Which one of his biggest fans introduces him to the overflow Cooperstown crowd, Larry Bowa or Joe Morgan?

Musselman’s Former Charges Sing His Praises

Posted in Basketball at 1:23 pm by

(Musselman informs Kings players that practice is cancelled and they’ll spend the afternoon doing inventory at the Darla warehouse, instead)

If everyone lost their job for a) not getting along with Danny Fortson or b) failing to see the potential in Mike Dunleavy, the unemployment rate in this country would be close to 50%.  And with that in mind, check out some quotes from Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman’ former players during his tenure in Oakland.  From the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick.

Many players who once seemed to despise Musselman now swear by him, perhaps because of the lesser talked-about effect of his tenure. Gilbert Arenas, Erick Dampier and Antiwan Jamison, among others, had some of their finest years under Musselman and landed huge contracts after leaving Golden State. Musselman was fired with one year left on his three-year contract.

“What happened at Golden State? He brought a team up, did what it took, and we won (17) more games than the year before with the same group,” said Arenas, the two-time All-Star Washington guard. “That should speak for itself.”

Arenas’ first impression wasn’t so flattering. On the first day of training camp, Musselman told him that Bobby Sura was going to be the opening-game starter. Musselman was, as Arenas learned, telling a white lie to motivate him into having a good camp.

“I was like, Uh, uh, not on my watch,” Arenas said. “But he got me going. He reminds me of an Avery Johnson (Dallas) type of coach. He’s fiery. He’s going to push you. He’s a player’s coach, and you rarely find that in this league.”

Months after Dampier called the coach “Musselhead”, he became the first player to invite Musselman to his house. With some Warriors teammates, they had a catfish dinner courtesy of Dampier’s mother and sisters that showed Musselman the importance of player-coach bonding.

“That was a point in time where there was pressure, and I felt we should have won the (Minnesota) game,” said Dampier, who is now with Dallas. “It was (said) just out of frustration. If I could go back and do it over, I never would’ve said that.

“Eric gave me the opportunity that no other coach has given me, the opportunity to show the real Erick Dampier. He’s a player’s coach, even though he’s never played in this league.”

My Hebrew comprehension skills are running behind English and Spanish these days — not necessarily in that order. Luckily, NetsDaily is able to translate, and it seems as though Maccabi Tel Aviv is after the Nets’ Zoran Planinic.

Demanding that “Team USA needs to crap the bed in the 2006 tourney. Nothing will get Gil and Antawn out from under Krzyzewski’s iron fist quicker than an early, ignoble exit.”, the Daily Bacon’s Rex Chapman (whose life is not about playing games) questions Coach K’s qualifications to lead our national side in the World Championships.

I’m not sure whether Krzyzweski’s command of Japanese will be sufficient to ride the referees into calling fouls after the merest flutter of a USA Basketball player’s limb while allowing American defenders to maul and hump their opponents mercilessly on defense. More importantly, he could convince Gilbert that he is fouled every time he drives the lane – the first step towards his eventual mutation into a moose.

The more a player toils under Krzyzewski, the worse he sucks in the NBA. Remember Trajan Langdon? No, I don’t think you do. Only if you leave Duke early, like Elton Brand, do you have a chance of overcoming his anti-professionalism. (Grant Hill resisted, so before he was drafted, a team of midget orthopedists replaced his ankles with plaster and applesauce.)

It’s Hard Out Here For An English Professor

Posted in Hip Hop, non-sporting journalism, Racism Corner at 12:35 pm by

The only thing more exasperating than today’s editorial (excerpted below) in the Chicago Tribune by Notre Dame’s William O’Rourke is the possibility, however remote, that he might be invited to speak at the next EMP Pop Conference.

Joe is now 15 (and I am 60) and he is overscheduled, which I don’t mind, except that it makes me overscheduled. I often drive him around and he plays CD compilations consisting mainly of rap tunes on the car’s player.

“I’m gonna get my gun!” Around our neighborhood here in South Bend, Ind., young folks do often go and get their guns.

I, of course, dislike Joe’s taste in music, but can’t keep from recalling that my parents abhorred my music. The Beatles? Janis Joplin? So, I try to temper my criticism–I don’t want to sound like too much of a hypocrite. So, I let Joe listen to his music of choice. The sexual content and language of a lot of it shocks me–me, a child of the ’60s! Petey Pablo’s “Freek-A-Leek” is one of the worst offenders.

We live in what’s called an “urban” neighborhood, which translates into poor black people living within shouting distance of the white college professors. So I make Joe listen to my anti-rap tirades. My tirades sound pretty much like the anti-rap speech the character played by the rap star Ludacris makes in the film “Crash.” Oh, the irony, Ludacris’ character sounding like Bill Cosby, or for that matter Bill O’Reilly, attacking rap for what it does to black culture, shortly after he and his buddy have carjacked a monster luxury sport-utility vehicle. I wondered, after “Crash” won the Oscar for best film this year, if a white screenwriter had penned that anti-rap monologue, or if a black writer had done it. In any case, the gangsta rap group Three 6 Mafia won the Oscar for best song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” Pick your irony.

Joe has forced me to listen to Eminem and his band D12, and after a while I began to realize M&M (my preferred spelling) has some talent.