06.29.08

White Sox, Rob Drake, Sweep Cubs’ B-Team

Posted in Baseball, Ugly New Stadiums at 11:14 pm by

(Cubs’ Lou Piniella exchanges words with noted Sox fan Rob Drake)

Maybe the Cubs, owner of the best record in baseball, needed a lesson in humility. After fielding a team without Soriano, Zambrano, Marmol, Johnson, and today without Piniella — over bullshit calls in front of him and then the behind-his-back ejection of Piniella by Rob Drake — and with AAA Iowa corn-cob middle-reliever Jose Ascanio, the Sox and Rob Drake had a great weekend. My reluctant congratulations to Rob Warmoski and the minor league umpiring staff filling in at the Cell this weekend. The 2008 Cubs join the ’68 convention’s protesters, Dr. Martin Luther King, and desegregation fans everywhere in underestimating South Side wrath. Cubs second string starter Sean Marshall loaded the bases early and often today, and with said bags all tagged, it was a “check” swing on an 0-2 count by Joe Crede that brought Piniella out in the 2nd. Not only did instant replay prove Crede’s full swinging strike, but ESPN’s Joe Morgan seconded Piniella’s opinion. 1st Base umpire Chad Fairchild warned Piniella to go back, which he did, when Rob Drake threw Piniella out while Pinieilla was returning to the dugout.

Chicago White Sox's Carlos Quentin is greeted in the dugout ...

(Rob Drake lookalike and long ball artiste Carlos Quentin of the Sox)

While the Cubs had a legit robbery call to make, 911 takes forever on the South Side, so what’s the point? By the time Ronny Cedeno was robbed by 1B umpire Chad Fairchild who called him out, they still wouldn’t have shown up. The Cubs had their own self-evident problems early on — like lead-off man Kosuke Fukodome uncharacteristically swinging on a first pitch to fly out in the 1st. DH Geovony Soto also blew a scoring spot the same way, and it went on all afternoon. Sean Marshall did OK allowing 3 runs off 5 hits in 7 innings, but he had nowhere near the run production behind him on which equally OK Cub starters have coasted. Credit is also due the White Sox pitching staff, as evidenced by Aramis Ramirez’ donut-hole production this evening. ESPN compared the multiple HRs Ramirez hit at Wrigley with the Sox pitching him outside last weekend, vs completely shutting him down tonight by adjusting their pitches inward — glad someone went to school on last weekend’s sweep.

(Joe Crede and Patrick Swayze, separated at birth?)

Jim Thome’s “check” swing aside, Thome, Dye, and Crede got it done in a big way, and they’re great to watch offensively. Thome’s 8th inning line drive HR was a beaut, and I am more than happy to leave him to the Twins and Tigers for the rest of the season. And while I do think Piniella is right to say the Sox will win their division, no doubt factoring in the return of Paul Konerko in the very near future, the Tigers will be the surprise of the second half. Mark Buehrle, what can you say, he made one of the few truly impressive returns for a pitcher this season. Final tally amounts to 5-1, White Sox.

For the record: REO Speedwagon’s entry in the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” contest blows.

Kevin Love : The T-Wolves’ New Master Of Hyberbole

Posted in Basketball at 6:41 pm by

(Minnesota GM Kevin McHale, right, confuses new charge Kevin Love with a detailed description of an early Suicide Commandos gig)

While the Daily News’ Frank Isola tips the Knicks to a) pursue point guards J-Will, Carlos Arroyo or Sebastian Telfair and b) waive Stephon Marbury after said PG is acquired, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda elicited the following quote from F Kevin Love after a Friday morning trade put him in a Timberwolves jersey rather than O.J. Mayo :

“I told my agent I hope I can end up in Minnesota because this is where I wanted to be,” said Love, a former Oregon schoolboy star. “Kevin McHale was maybe my favorite player of all time. I’m happy to be in the city. It’s almost like Portland, only colder. It’s going to be my new favorite city.”

McHale retired in 1993.  Love was born in 1988.  Either the latter watched a ton of Celtics games during his formative years or he’s doing a fine job of flattering his new boss. When and if Love claims to enjoy any of his Uncle Mike‘s solo recordings, we’ll know for certain he’s less than sincere.

If there’s one sure silver lining to Mayo being traded to Memphis, it’s that ‘Lil Dice doesn’t have to cope with the painful knowledge the URL iloveoj.com is already taken.

Not The Proudest Moment In The History Of The Boston Globe Sports Department

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 5:16 pm by

If you thought the Globe’s handling of Ron Borges was poor, brace yourself for this. The ink is barely dry on Jackie MacMullan’s buyout and the Globe is asking readers to produce video love letters to the paper. Maybe the gentleman above is really a conceptual humorist, but that’s probably giving him too much credit. If Will McDonough was alive today, he’d invite Raymond Clayborn to poke him in both eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at this shit.

Not to say that bringing McDonough back from the grave would necessarily be a good thing, mind you.

Mushnick On “The Greatest Shakedown In NY Sports History”

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 4:37 pm by

That the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick is a frequent object of ridicule at CSTB is long established. There are few exercises in dead-horse-beating more tiresome than Phil’s weekly complaints about late start times, excessive celebrations, expensive sneakers or claims of reverse racism. But every now and then (mostly then), Mushnick hits the bullseye in raising a subject that oughta enrage most of his readership — assuming anyone’s paying attention.

In today’s Post, Mushnick describes the Giants and Jets’ new Personal Seat License schemes as “the greatest shake-down in this region’s sports history”.  That’s right, folks,  Phil has found an affront to sporting commerce decency even more offensive than NY Rangers alternate jerseys or the Mets’ Seven Pack.

The Giants – and soon, the Jets – tell us that PSL money will be applied to the cost of their new ballpark. Funny, when you and I, already living in a reasonably nice home, can’t afford to buy one of those nice, big, new ones, what do we do?

We don’t buy it! We stay put! We don’t buy what we can’t afford. Imagine that!

Imagine if the Jets and Giants were told they had to pay a personal seat license. That in addition to paying to install 82,000 seats in their new ballpark, they had to pay an additional fee on all 82,000 of them in order not to have them removed next season. They would laugh in the faces of the extortionists, maybe even call the cops.

Of course, though, they would never have to confront such an outrage, the kind they’re presenting as a pay-or-get-lost option to their steadiest customers.

Not that if the media today rises up in protest any change will be exacted. One of the things that a steady silence on such issues long ago imbued in team owners and league rulers is immunity from shame. You no longer can embarrass people who years ago began to understand that they could get away with anything. Too late for that.

C.J. Nitkowski Just Won The (Japanese) Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes

Posted in Baseball, We Aren't The World at 3:13 pm by

The AP’s current stance on quotes-for-pay prevents me from lifting any portion of C.J. Nitkowski’s piece on the nature of Japan’s interleague series (and my inability to read Japanese isn’t helping much, either), but suffice to say a cash prize of some $500,000.00 (half as much after ownership takes their cut) would do wonders for such a competition in America….between the Pacific Coast and International leagues (link swiped from The Griddle).

Former Yankee prospect Danny Rios (above), a 17 year professional and one of just 3 Spanish born players with MLB experience, was hit with a one year suspension by NPB after testing positive for hydroxystanozorol. Amazingly, if you enter “hydroxystanozorol” into Google, your first 14 results are related to Rios’ case.  Much the way Mark McGwire popularized andro, it took a former Korean Baseball MVP to put hydroxystanozorol on th emap.

The Journal News : Where The Headlines Don’t Quite Match The Text Below

Posted in Baseball at 12:51 pm by

After dropping a 3-2 decision to the Yankees yesterday, the Mets’ Johan Santana —-4th in innings pitched in the NL this year, notes Matthew Cerrone —- was graced with the above headline in the Journal News, despite offering the following quotes to the paper’s John Delcos :

The man to whom the Mets will pay $137.5 million has pitched well, exceptionally at times, but has been unable to lift them to the next level.

That’s because he can’t do it alone, and in yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Yankees he was pretty much asked to fend for himself.

It’s been that way for a month now as the Mets have lost Santana’s last five starts. Since beating the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 1, Santana has four losses and a no-decision despite a 2.53 ERA in that span, giving up just seven earned runs.

“I am giving my best effort every time I go out there,” Santana said. “Every time I go out there I am giving my team a chance to win the game. Other than that, there’s nothing I can do.”

Frustrated?

“No,” said Santana, passing on the opportunity to throw his hitters under the bus.

“I know the guys are trying as hard as they can. It’s just not working.”

You know what must be frustrating? For Santana to explicitly state that he’s not frustrated, yet be characterized as “a little frustrated”.

North Siders Wander Into Stockyards, Eaten By Animals In Bullpen

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, The Mailbag at 2:14 am by

The above headline was supplied by RW370‘s Rob Warmowski, who follows with a recap of Saturday afternoon’s events at U.S. Cellular Field :

The Cubs’ Lou Piniella knows what he’s talking about.  After being beaten 6-5 and two straight by the White Sox, Lou showed way more class than the average Cub fan by admitting the Sox should win their division by “at least half a dozen games”.  Relieved by the Sox pen of all duties signaling to runners in the 8th and 9th innings, Lou must have used the free time to reflect on what first-place baseball on the working side of town really means:

 

– The Best Bullpen In Baseball:  Not since Snoop Pearson and Chris Partlow has a pair more epitomized the term “lights out” than Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks.  As if that weren’t enough, Boone Logan, Nick Masset and  the hammering heat of Matt Thornton (W, 4K 1 2/3) are all on call  – and only made necessary today by the struggling Javy Vazquez’s (9H, 5R 4 1/3) 104 pitch performance.  With a pen like this, the Sox can probably weather another Jose Contreras divorce, if not more of Vazquez’ glitching.

– Crede Got Back: Is there a better-handled hot corner in the AL?  3B Joe Crede’s back surgeon’s suture skills were on dispay in a 4th inning incredible stretching dive catch of a Derrek Lee line drive to get out of the inning.  However big Trapper John’s yacht is, at least he’s earned it.

– Offense: It’s A Good Idea. The reliable power of Jermaine Dye (1 HR), the improbable power of Alexi Ramirez (1 HR), the explosive swing of Orlando Cabrera, the far-from-terrible Nick Swisher and the, uh, rich legacy of Jim Thome (1BB) are enough to stake a season-long claim to the zone.

But you’re not done until you add the incomparable All-Star write-in candidate Carlos Quentin (1 HR), who today sent a Carlos Marmol 0-2 fastball over the right field fence and into the inferior Cubs pen. The go-ahead run landing in the seated Kerry Wood’s lap is all it took to remind Wood, Piniella and the world that the Sox are number one.