06.28.09

.486: Lou’s “Piece of Sh*t” Motivational Speech is FAIL, Ozzie Declares All Players Sh*t, Cubs Lose 6-0

Posted in Baseball at 5:45 pm by

Chicago Cubs' Milton Bradley reacts after striking out against ...

[Milton Bradley’s slow burn, just before his Gatorade machine smackdown.]

When I got e-mail yesterday asking if I knew about the Lou v Mitlon dispute, I hoped it was a ribald steam room story about Lou Costello and Milton Berle with the punchline, “Come on Milton, just take out enough to win.”  Nope, Boo Bradley, for whom I should be on retainer at this point, spent part of the Cubs 8-7 loss yesterday to the hated pale hose arguing with umpires.  Bradley’s right, he does get handed a different set of rules from umpires.  Lou’s also right, Bradley’s wasting his time and hurting his team by engaging in fights he’ll never win.  Lou, who spent the off-season reading “psychology” books he bought off Amazon, laid into Bradley and called him a “piece of shit” in the dugout and sent him to the showers “ but not before Bradley went after the Cubs’ beleagured Gatorade machine.  Well, the Sox’ s machine, as the Cubs’ Gatorade machine was removed for its own safety.  Bradley sought solace in the local Chicago media, and Paul Sulliivan was only too happy to climb up on a chair to give Milton a shoulder to cry on, here.  “If it’s a motivating tactic and he’s taking a different switch since people are saying he didn’t have fire, then I understand. I take a lot of heed in what he has to say. It matters. I take it to heart, and I’m better for it.”  Glad to hear it.  The Cubs then lost today, 6-0.  Watching Lou lose his temper brought out some sympathy from the one man in Sox Park who knows a player beat down well, Ozzie Guillien.  As Ozzie said:

“You know what™s funny, because players now, they™re scared to take charge because they might lose the relationship of his teammate,” Guillen said. They might lose a friendship. I remember when something was not right in the clubhouse or the dugout, players took care of that.

“Now, the manager and the coaches have got to be the guys to do it. I don™t think players now in baseball, they don™t have the guts to get on his teammates for something they do wrong. We™re missing that. I think that™s the reason Lou has to be the guy taking charge or me taking charge. I remember when players don™t like something about your teammate, they jump on your (rear) and get on it. If you like it, you like it. If you don™t, that™s the way we™re going to do stuff here. Now, the players are scared. I don™t say it™s respect. I think most of the time they™re scared about losing a relationship. I think the players don™t take charge anymore.

In other Cubs news, I’m officially voting for Geo Soto on my all-star ballot since Soto tested positive for a PID, performance inhibiting drug.  ESPN reported Thursday that Soto tested + for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic (“claaaaaaaasic, dude!” he called it, while laughing stupidly), and has not served a day in jail.  This news got tsunamied by another drug addict having a bad Thursday, so you may not have heard.  Is there an asterisk for players who make their job harder?  It should note that Soto’s BA .228 for the year, had he not been stoned, would be somehwere in the .260s right now.  I hope the HOF judges keep that in mind while voting, is all I’m saying.  Fans worried about his future can chill, as Soto says the dope has NOT killed his love of the game. “I am fully dedicated to the game of baseball and my teammates, and I apologize for any distraction and embarrassment this may cause them,” he said three times in a row.

Finally, as posited here for some time, the Ricketts’ family exclusive-not-exclusive-window-not-a-window-top-bid-not-a-bid saga is going nowhere fast.  It finally brought about a leak from the non-Ricketts interests in the Cubs sale last week.  Apparently, no Obama Sox-friendly stimulus money has trickled down to Mr. Ricketts, whose family day trading empire Ameritrade isn’t able to secure him the $500 mil he’s been short to buy the team.  Hm, day trading cash looks pretty slim these days, if I can go by Lenny Dykstra’s reported money troubles.  While reports claim Ricketts and Zell differ only on a mere $50 mil, Zell has opened up talks with New York based investment group lead by Marc Utay, who Sox fans will be happy to know is a graduate of the Harvard of the Northen suburbs, New Trier High School.  Utay’s original bid was supposed to have been $900 mil or so, which Mark Cuban still felt was overpriced last January.

Media Old & New Concur : Walsh Should’ve Taken Jennings

Posted in Basketball at 4:25 pm by

“I guess we’ll never know how Young Money would’ve fared in the Big Apple,” muses Posting & Toasting‘s Seth after the New York Knicks’ decision to select Jordan Hill with Thursday’s 8th overall pick instead of PG Brandon Jennings, chosen at no. 10 by Milwaukee.  “my imagination tells me that the intersection of Jennings’ mouth, D’Antoni’s offense, and the New York media could’ve been glorious” bemoans Seth, though the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey goes a tad further, saying of GM Donnie Walsh’s alleged infatuation with prying Ricky Rubio’s rights from Minnesota, “he has a better chance to acquire Steve Nash when he finally gets fed up with the shenanigans of the Suns.”

A talent scout tells me, “God created Jennings for D’Antoni’s system … minus the jump shot that needs improvement.” That’s straight from a friend of mine who knows a little basketball and has seen the kid play no less than 100 times throughout high school/AAU.

“Every year he was the best guard in his class,” said a Western Conference GM who tried to obtain a second No. 1 to get him before the Bucks did at No. 10. “Then he went to Italy to play. You know how it works, out of sight, out of mind.”

“Brandon is a freak athlete with a superior feel for the game and unteachable passing ability. He flaunts Pistol Pete flair, Isiah Thomas toughness with a nasty streak to match, doesn’t take crap from anybody and always has the backs of teammates. Plus he loves New York. Used to come to the city to play at Rucker Playground and in other outdoor leagues. He would’ve reinvigorated the Garden.

“The Rubio-Pistol comparisons are comical,” my friend snapped. “What, just because both are white, play guard, and have floppy hair? Rubio averages nine a game in Europe. Maravich averaged 44 at LSU. It’s insulting to Pete and his legacy they’re being compared.”

Astonishingly Perceptive Guardian Scribe : Bruce Guilty Of Rockism

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 2:27 pm by

Of Bruce Springsteen’s headlining set at the Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage last night, the Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey — killing all chances of a guided tour of the Bronx from Peter Abraham — opines, “being bored, irritated and only occasionally thrilled by the man routinely called the most electrifying performer in rock is no fun at all…this critic felt like someone standing in front of a magic-eye picture and being told that, if he stares long enough, he will see the Statue of Liberty but who finds, two-and-a-half hours later, that it’s still just squiggly lines.”  These John Cafferty sympathizers are everywhere, I tell ya.

For someone acclaimed as a perceptive blue-collar bard, he’s rarely far from self-parody. Many of his songs sound like numbers from a Broadway musical about a guy who works in a garage. If you drank a shot every time he sang the words work, dream, streets, highway or refinery, you would be unconscious within an hour (less than halfway through the set). During Working on a Dream (two shots), he begins testifying like a southern preacher, or, more accurately, like a Saturday Night Live comedian doing an impersonation of James Brown, about building a house of lurve, a building of soul and a loft extension of hope.

But then it seems that the whole point of Springsteen is that he’s a colossal, unashamed, scenery-chewing ham. Born to Run is both the most preposterous song in his catalogue and the most heart-thumpingly joyous. Dancing in the Dark and Glory Days are elevated, rather than marred, by their corny use-before-1985 synth riffs. More of a problem than the garage-guy lyrics, the oh-lawdy business and Clarence “Big Man” Clemons’s reliably ghastly sax solos, is the realisation that, despite Springsteen’s stature, he has very few songs that have entered the mass consciousness. Only the three just mentioned “ along with Because the Night and Thunder Road “ excite mass singing all the way to the back. Calls for Born in the USA go unanswered. Fair enough, because it’s a good song massacred by its bombastic arrangement and is now avoided by the very man who made it, but during long stretches of bar-band rock and American Land’s horrible Irish jig, one wished he would throw another bone to the agnostics.

I don’t wanna argue with Mr. Lynskey, though I saw a Springsteen show earlier this year and found most of the cheesey O.D. bits he describes to be of the kidding-around variety.  But as we should all have an informed opinion rather than rely upon the crackpot testimony of self-styled experts, here’s some exclusive footage of last night’s Glastonbury show.  Decide for yourself!

DC’s Catalano : Mets’ Paucity Of Power = Panic

Posted in Baseball at 1:39 pm by

After being humbled at home on successive days by the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Mets’ lack of power hitting appears to be less of a problem compared to their lack of any hitting in general  (1 run, 4 combined hits over the last 18 innings). But as Dugout Central’s Paul Catalano points out, the not-so-Amazins’ 46 total HR’s this season reflect “a line-up that doesn™t have opposing pitchers waking up in the middle of the night screaming in fear.” Catalano’s solution? “The Mets should try to trade for Michael Cuddyer by offering the Twins SS prospect Wilmer Flores.” (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Michael Cuddyer, when healthy, is a solid RF, with a good arm and, more importantly from the Mets prospective, power. While he can play a number of positions, RF is where he is best suited”he has had season of 18 and 19 assists from RF, and can handle the new CitiField well. As of this writing, Cuddyer is slugging .514, or what would be 2nd on the Mets squad behind the injured Beltran. Also, he has an OPS of .878, which would place him 4rd behind Wright and Beltran and the soon to be injured Sheffield.

The Twins have a glut of outfielders”and trading Cuddyer could clear space for other able players. Right now, the Twins are breaking in young outfielders Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez (of the Mets farm system), both young and talented and who need time to grow. The Twins also have Jason Kubel and Denard Span”productive players both as Kubel is slugging .558 and Span is batting .287 with 12 stolen bases.

What the Twins don™t have is a blue-chip shortstop, either at the Majors or in the minor leagues. Nick Punto and Brendan Harris are fine shortstops, but franchise rocks they are not. Franchise rocks like Jose Reyes. Reyes is the engine that makes the Mets go. And at 26, he will be said engine for a long time. Which means SS Wilmer Flores, the Mets biggest prospect according to Baseball America, will be blocked by the time he is ready to hit the Majors. While only 17, Flores is on the fast track to the majors.

Considering Catalano admits Flores “projects to have the same kind of power A-Rod or Ripken had at the shortstop position”, this is a somewhat curious proposition. The Mets already gave up on a highly touted prospect (ok, Lastings Milledge) to acquire Ryan Church, and the esteemed columnist from Dugout Central suggests following that move with trading one of the organization’s few youthful bargaining chips at the exact moment Jose Reyes’ long term prognosis is questionable. Can we really presume Flores’ path to the big leagues is going to blocked by Reyes in 2-3 years’ time?

While Flores and his Savannah Gnats teammates ended a three game winning streak with Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Charleston, the other big Mets minor league news this morning concerns Oliver Perez, who’s scheduled to make a minor league start for Single-A Brooklyn (NY-Penn) today at 5pm.  Ollie’s Keyspan Park debut precedes Yo La Tengo‘s by 15 days, and while the inconsistent left-hander will certainly command a higher fee for his performance, the odds are pretty good Yo La Tengo will have a longer outing, even with the constraints of opening for Wilco.

If Any Of You Have Reasons Why These Two Should Not Be Married, Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Posted in Baseball at 10:56 am by


Cubs 7, White Sox 8

Typically, South Side Polish parades clear the street before proceeding, but Grand Marshal AJ Pierzynski would have none of it yesterday after Gordon Beckham’s walk-off single.  The delirious receiver spearheaded a celebratory procession to second base that put the young infielder on his heels.  In his moment the kid showed less resolve than the groom at the wedding I was attending, but to be fair, the betrothed did not have to contend with the vision of a hulking, armored Pole bearing down at full speed.

But enough about the bridesmaids.  As tends to happen with the Crosstown tilts, Game 2, Electric Boogaloo was a wild affair of eight lead changes, questionable defense, and excitement aplenty.  Mark Buehrle (5.2 IP 6H 5R 3BB 3K) kept a lid on the Cubs until Beckham’s throwing error in the 3rd put Andres Blacno in scoring position, followed by another bad throw by Alexei Ramirez that allowed Bradley to reach.  A Buehrle balk in the 5th set up the tying run to come in on a Soriano sac fly.

But the bottom of the frame had Ryan Dempster (5IP 8H 5R 3BB 2K) heading for the showers after giving up a bomb to Scott Podsednik, a sigle to Ramirez, a walk to Thome, hitting Konerko and a 2-run single to AJ.

The North Siders came right back with their own 3-run inning in the 6th, ending Buehrle’s day with a walk and a single, promoting Ozzie to call upon DJ Carrasco, who promptly gave up a two-run double to Soriano, who scored on the subsequent single by Theriot.

To answer yet again, Dewayne Wise stretched out a triple when he sent an errant Aaron Heilman heater over Fukudome’s head, scoring on one of Podsednik’s 4-for-5 PAs and tying it back up.  As I traveled to Hickory Hills in solid traffic on the Stevenson, I wondered if these extraordinary proceedings had mustered any excitement from Joe Buck.  I glumly read the Bush ’04 bumper stcker in front of me, knowing I would never know.

One more run apeiece in the 8th and it was time to head to the banquet hall.  So I missed Beckham’s single, I missed the celebration, and I missed the happy outcome of Bobby Jenks (W 2-2)  second win. However, in his honor, I did eat an extra piece of chicken.

06.27.09

Don’t Call It A Comeback – The Return Of Ronni

Posted in Baseball at 11:58 am by

Ronni’s Amazins are surprisingly, still in a pennant race despite having been outscored 24-1 in their last two outings versus the Yankees.  Unless you actually believe the NL East can be taken with 83 wins, there’s not much to celebrate. And at the risk of beating a dead horse, while no one I’ve spoken to envies the Bronx’s new launching pad, who amongst us predicted a 2009 campaign in which David Wright might not hit 20 home runs?

06.26.09

Baseball’s Latest Drug Casualties : Sid Vicious, Sweet Lou

Posted in Baseball at 8:34 pm by

Some results of drug tests conducted during the 2009 World Baseball Classic have been released and it turns out The Aruban Nightmare, aka Sidney Ponson tested positive for a banned stimulant.  Currently on the DL for Omaha Royals, Ponson is banned from international competition for two years, but if you can name a single international tournament he’d have competed in during that time, you’re a bigger baseball fan than me.  Royals GM Dayton Moore describes the offending substance as “a diet pill”,  so perhaps Ponson is entitled to a refund on top of the time off.

Cubs receiver Geovany Soto — he of the game-winning, 3-run HR in this afternoon’s 5-4 defeat of the host White Sox — is said to have tested positive for marijuana during the WBC.  Manager Lou Piniella quickly spoke in support of his catcher, telling ESPN Chicago, “A lot of people (smoke marijuana). You can even buy it in California from a pharmacy.”  Would it be so difficult for Lou to provide this pharmacy’s name and address?

Look, I have smoked dope one time in my life,” Piniella said before the Cubs faced the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. “And it didn’t do a damn thing for me, and I never tried it again. I’m fortunate because of that.

Piniella believes the weight of knowing that revelation would come out affected Soto, who is the reigning National League rookie of the year and has struggled this season.

“I wasn’t aware of this until three or four days ago, and if I had been aware of it, truthfully, I would have encouraged Geo to speak about this much sooner to get it off his chest,” Piniella said. “I think it’s really had a negative effect on his performance.

“It was supposed to come out a few times and they delayed it, and I don’t think it’s done any good. I would have encouraged the player to come out and say this is what’s going to come out, this is what’s happened, I’m embarrassed about it and it’s not going to happen again. I’m done with it. Basically, that would have been the best approach, as far as I’m concerned.”

Not to mock the skipper but what’s up with these people who say they’ve tried a drug once and never again?  Isn’t it pretty common knowledge you can’t really get a full grasp of a drug’s capabilities until you’ve used it fairly consistently for a few weeks, if not months?  And is it really too late for Lou to give weed another try?  Surely watching Carlos Marmol pitch is grounds for a medical exemption.