Omar Minaya Makes Deal in Response to Mets’ Injury Issues

Posted in Baseball at 5:21 pm by

No one plans for injuries to their cleanup hitter, leadoff hitter, and six-hole hitter. Well… that’s not totally true. A lot of your more successful baseball general manager types like to have a few serviceable options and backups on hand in case stuff like this goes down. What I probably should’ve written is that Omar Minaya didn’t necessarily plan for injuries to his cleanup hitter, leadoff hitter, etc., and instead opted to field a Triple-A team that is less impressive than its 13-29 record suggests, and which would almost certainly lose seven of 10 games to the Newark Bears. And now, with Jose Reyes and Ryan Church joining Carlos Delgado on the 15-day DL this afternoon, the Mets are officially without a plurality of their Opening Day starters.

Which, you know, is a shitty deal. But while I don’t have much to add on this topic beyond my usual (in Jerry Stiller voice) “what the hell did you trade Jeff Keppinger for!” maunderings, I kind of have to applaud Omar for 1) making a much-needed trade today while 2) sticking to his strategy of entrusting a bunch of roster spots on his $150 million team’s fortunes to aging, Atlantic League-ready humps. In exchange for a player to be named later, Omar just secured a middle infielder from the Indians. Not ex-prospect Josh Barfield, who’s at Triple-A and not going anywhere, and not versatile evangelical Jamey Carroll, who’s reputedly a Minaya favorite. Nah, why waste time with those goofs when you can get this guy. Who is maybe the only player available in another organization who’s less likely to help at the Big League level than the Mets’ current Triple-A shortstop.

Now, to be fair to Wilson Valdez, his .211/.255/.277 Major League splits come in just 254 at-bats. And he is only 31 years old. And he did slug (slug!) .207 at Triple-A this season, so he’s clearly due. For something. I am aware that caring about deals like this is not good for me, and also takes more energy than the trades deserve. But being a fan of the team that traded Jason Bay for Steve Reed and is currently starting both Livan Hernandez and Tim Redding because it dealt Brian Bannister for Ruben Gotay kind of distorts things a bit.

So anyway, welcome Wilson Valdez. You are the current symbol to me of everything wrong with the Minaya Administration, until something else comes along. (Oh, also, the Mets called up Fernando Martinez to take Church’s place)

Fox, MLB Combat The Public’s Distaste For Joe Buck…

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV, The Marketplace at 4:44 pm by

….with a series of commercials featuring Joe Buck. At least that the prognosis supplied by the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Futterman, reporting earlier today that Major League Baseball’s Saturday afternoon telecasts on the Fox network have suffered a 4% rattings dip compared to the same period in 2008.

Fox Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio confirmed network executives will head to Milwaukee next week to strategize with Commissioner Bud Selig about reversing the downward trends. “The purpose of the meeting is to find a way to boost the ratings for the All-Star Game and the World Series,” he said. Plans include showing baseball movies on Sunday afternoons on Fox’s sister channel FX, and promotional ads with broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Fox says it is less concerned with the shrinking Saturday audience, since the regular season games represent about 10% of the value of the $255 million annual rights fee the network pays.

It would interesting to learn, for instance, how Fox’s Saturday numbers thur far in 2009 compared to ESPN’s Sunday night tally, or TBS’ Sunday afternoon results. The oft-cited Saturday blackout period no longer applies to MLB.TV’s online offerings so long as the games have a 1pm start. I doubt this is enough of a factor to contribute to a 4 percent drop in viewership for the late afternoon national TV game, but it makes as much sense as Futterman musing “additional revelations of steroid use certainly haven’t helped.”

Yahoo’s Dwyer Writes the Difficulty in Belated Review of ‘Kobe Doin’ Work’

Posted in Basketball, The World Of Entertainment at 4:25 pm by

Boy, I really don’t like typing Kobe Doin’ Work. When the guy who made a movie called Mo’ Better Blues makes a movie with a more embarrassing title, that’s saying something. But do that Spike Lee has, and that he’s also made a movie more embarrassing than the aforementioned mega-stilted self-indulgent lapel orgy/alternate-universe jazz opus in KDW (ah, better) is, by this point, kind of the consensus. Lee’s Kobe-mentary is not reputed to be as exacting or backhandedly abstract as the similarly conceived Zidane, and Bryant’s performance reportedly scans super inauthentic and weird. I can’t get that exercised about it one way or the other — or speak with much authority on it — because I didn’t see it. I probably won’t. Unless I’m captured by, like, ironists and tortured by means of a lesser-Lee film festival, in which case KBW will presumably form the sherbert course between She Hate Me and Bamboozled.

But Kelly Dwyer, who is more obsessive about basketball than I am and also presumably got paid by Yahoo to do so, did indeed watch KBW, and has a long, fascinatingly anguished quasi-defense of the film up at Ball Don’t Lie. I can’t totally recommend his defense, either — the thesis seems to be something about how the film’s squirm-inducing elements are, at bottom, a reflection of Kobe’s squirm-inducing maladjustment, and that on those terms, the movie works. I don’t know that I can buy that (it’s a very low bar), but as someone who loves the internet’s process-in-yer-face writing style (and often embodies that writing-the-difficulty thing to an occasionally annoying extent in this very space) I found the piece pretty interesting. It reverses course several times and is tough to excerpt, but if you find this interesting, you might want to give the whole thing a look:

[The film] is just really tough to watch for anyone who has a passing idea of how pro basketball works. Even though it is replete with insider stuff and Xs and Os talk made perfect for a junkie like me, it’s completely mitigated by Bryant’s performance. His on-camera banter and his voiceover work. Tough, tough stuff.

I watched it because I have to. I’m useless without information, the game changes and evolves constantly, and if I don’t try to stay on the up and up, I’m useless… And as distasteful as I found the documentary, and Kobe’s performance to be at times, you still have to muddle through it. On a couch. With some delicious iced tea and a fan blowing a light breeze your way. Sacrifice.

For those who haven’t seen it, Kobe is completely and utterly playing to the 30 cameras that he knows are documenting his every move, recording his every word, in a way that leaves him looking so transparent that it’s a wonder he even let this thing get out.

Actually, it isn’t a wonder. Kobe has isolated himself so much from anyone who will tell him that things aren’t heading in a direction that isn’t particularly appropriate, that it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t know how poorly he came off.

I’m years removed from being angry about that. At this point, in May of 2009, I’m just sort of sad about that. The guy is so maladjusted, he just has no clue.

And in the sickest way possible, I relate to that.

Philly’s MLS Side : Attracting Haters Before They’ve Kicked A Ball

Posted in Football at 3:51 pm by

Since being awarded a 2010 Major League Soccer franchise, the Philadelphia Union have sold more then 7000 season tickets. With that sort of excitement surrounding a new club, is there any surprise the Union badge is prominently displayed throughout the internet?

In the above instance of hackery, however, the answer might be “yes”. (link swiped from The 700 Level)

Krieger : Phil’s Complaints Are A “Loser’s Lament”

Posted in Basketball at 3:36 pm by

Aside from imagining Phil Jackson needing a scorecard to ID some of the Nuggets who’ve managed to reduce the Western Conference finals to a Best-Of-3 (ie. “Linas Kleiza, having regressed his way out of the playing rotation by the end of the season, scoring 10 points in 13 minutes off the bench to help take up Melo’s scoring slack” — what, no love for Renaldo Balkman?), the Denver Post’s Dave Kreiger is certain the Lakers “have already begun their campaign against the aggression of the aggrieved, the Nuggets’ current calling card.”

Jackson was complaining about the officiating as soon as Game 4 ended. Like New Orleans coach Byron Scott in the first round, the Lakers are now suggesting Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones is a dirty player for tripping Bryant near the end of the third quarter.

The Nuggets shrugged it off. In fact, Karl likes to hear opponents complain about the officiating, as he mentioned when Scott did it in the first round. Generally speaking, it is a loser’s lament.

The NBA is supposed to be a star’s league. Magic, Larry, Michael, Shaq, Kobe. These are the players that win titles. This is why LeBron is thought to have next.

The Nuggets are still six wins away, but Monday’s win put them in better position than they have been in 32 NBA seasons. ESPN’s hype machine is doing its best to make them famous now, but they’re a little late to the task. Good luck finding an unlikelier group of championship contenders.

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger doesn’t quite share the Denver columnists’ unabashed enthusiasm for the Nuggets’ run, calling Jones, “the modern-day version of Anthony Mason. (Or, for our younger readers, Bruce Bowen.)”

Jones already had two flagrant fouls (penalty one) in the playoffs before he stuck his leg out and tripped Bryant with about four minutes left in the third quarter Monday night. Jones’ two-handed push in Bryant’s back in Game 3 had been upgraded to a flagrant foul upon review by the league office, which won’t need much time to upgrade Jones’ latest transgression to his third flagrant of the playoffs.

If that happens — and it absolutely should, given the blatant nature of the play — Jones will have three flagrant points against him entering Game 5. Another flagrant foul-penalty one would result in an automatic one-game suspension. A more serious flagrant-two would get Jones suspended for two games.

Jones, for his part, employed the Iran-Contra defense — “I don’t remember the play,” he said — and insisted, “I think you’re making too much of one play. … I play hard and people don’t like contact. People don’t like you getting in their face. It’s my job to frustrate and play hard and make [Bryant] work for things. If I just let him score on me every time, then I wouldn’t be doing my job. I wouldn’t be able to stay on the floor, so I don’t understand what you people want me to do.”

Wednesday Night : Four Bands Who’ve Yet To Play The Nutty Brown Cafe

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 2:10 pm by

2nd time around the block for the post-King Coffey ATC, and we’ll be debuting new material and trying to remember the old on a favorite stage. If you’ve not seen Elvis before, all prior notions of “menacing stage presence” will require revision (though to be fair, the R.S. Howard-esque guitar playing is an equal draw)

Air Traffic Controllers

Kingdom Of Suicide Lovers

Cheap Heat Dept. : WWE’s Enos Humor

Posted in Basketball, Professional Wrestling at 12:52 am by

While the Nuggets were routing the Lakers at the Pepsi Center, a hastily scheduled taping of WWE Raw at LA’s Staples Center predictably centered around Vince MacMahon’s biggest obsession since the Montreal Screw Job.  From the LA Times’ Lance Pugmire :

Looking cheesy with a bad mustache and cheap sports coat, “Stan Kroenke” entered the arena with a basketball and handed it to an actor supposed to be Lakers owner Jerry Buss. The scene fooled some in the crowd, and required at least one fan to explain, “It’s an impersonator, dude!”

But “Kroenke” wasted no time further offending WWE fans in L.A., telling the crowd he was owner of the “soon-to-be NBA champion Denver Nuggets.”

“I cannot stand the WWE or its fans, for that matter. Do you think I care that I screwed thousands of fans? I have much more important things to do with my time. … I’m a respected tycoon/billionaire. I’ve been villified by the WWE, the media and every one of you.”

A photo then flashed on a big screen showing Kroenke with a devil’s tail and horns, while McMahon wore a halo.

McMahon then entered the arena to say he was announcing the formation of a new pro basketball league, the XBA, that would fail miserably, because, “I will have [Kroenke] and your staff run it.”

“All you had to do was pick up the phone and explain that [you] didn’t expect [your] team to make the playoffs.”

McMahon then ridiculed that Kroenke is formally known as E. Stan Kroenke, revealing the E. stands for Enos.

“Enos, look at you,” McMahon said, as the Kroenke impersonator covered his ears in shame. “You’re an Enos! … You have a terminal case of Enos envy.”