05.27.10

Post Scribe Questions The Spryness Of Donnie Walsh

Posted in Basketball at 8:27 am by

Is Knicks President Donnie Walsh (above, left) up to the physical challenge of recruiting a LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki or Chris Bosh to NYC?  Can he withstand the rigors of cataloging online references to Eddy Curry’s financial woes? If someone is needed to move Straight Shot overstock from an MSG storage facility, does he have what it takes?  Perhaps not, if you’re likely to buy into the innuendo supplied by The NY Post’s Marc Berman, who all but insists Walsh will need to appoint a full-time GM ASAP, because he’s too fuckin’ enfeebled.

According to a source close to Walsh, the 69-year-old’s hip went out during the Euroleague Final Four as he struggled negotiating the bleachers at ancient Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy.

Walsh downplayed the incident, but told The Post he has put off a hip-replacement surgery for six years, never feeling he had time for the six weeks of rehab. Friends are insisting that he undergoes the surgery sooner rather than later, perhaps after the free-agent signings.

Walsh didn’t deny it’s something that could be addressed in the near future, but stated in an e-mail, “I’m not thinking about it now. It is not something I am focused on at this time.”

Former Warriors GM Chris Mullin, who is tight with Walsh from their Indiana days, seems a natural fit and long has been considered a candidate to be Walsh’s heir apparent.

Allan Houston, assistant to the president who will be a key recruiter this July (he’s longtime friends with James’ advisor, William Wesley), could be nearing a promotion. When Walsh hired Houston, he admitted he was grooming him to be a general manager.

05.26.10

My Nephew Jake Outclasses Dan Patrick, Won’t Punk His Friends for ESPN

Posted in Basketball at 11:49 am by

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My 9-yr-old nephew made a triumphant return to ESPN’s Dan Patrick Show on Monday to analyze the Suns victory over the Lakers Sunday night (and he was on again this AM,  which I’ll post as soon as I can).  Unlike his debut, where he sullenly reported their 0-2 standing in the series, he could finally report a Suns’ win. Jake not only ignored Patrick’s invitation to call out his Lakers-fan friend at school a “punk,” but charmingly worked his way toward a credentialled spot at the ESPN press box at the Staples Center.  A few days ago I apologized to GC that Jake wasn’t first sent to the CSTB intern program before ESPN.  After hearing him refuse to make a low-blow comment about a schoolfriend, tho, I realize now this was probably for the best.  Apparently, he’ll sink to my level of name-calling when it comes to the Cubs and Cards, but not in a professional setting.  Good on you, Jake!

CBS Sports’ Greg Doyel : Self-Appointed Executioner For The OU Hoops Program

Posted in Basketball at 11:21 am by

Despite coming from a long line of Sooner alumni, CBS Sports’ Greg Doyel is compelled to shine a light on the recent resignation of Oklahoma assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro, and an incriminating pattern of texts and phone calls to a Tampa financial advisor accused of wiring $3000 to the account of OU F Tiny Gallon (above). “That’s death penalty stuff, right?” asks Doyel. Perhaps not, but given that Oklahoma is just coming off probation next week, the timing couldn’t be better (or worse), depending on your perspective.

Oklahoma pushed Taliaferro out last month. Technically he “resigned,” but don’t be stupid. He didn’t resign on April 8. He was fired. The financial advisor, Jeffrey Hausinger, also is out of a job. He left Merrill Lynch on March 26, shortly after his alleged involvement went public.

As for Gallon and Warren, both entered the 2010 NBA Draft around the same time that Hausinger left his job. Both are thought to be headed to the second round, land of nonguaranteed contracts. Both are awfully young to be leaving for the second round — Gallon a freshman, Warren a sophomore. But they’re gone. They’re not coming back. Oklahoma doesn’t even want them back. And if you couple their departures with the job losses of Taliaferro and Hausinger — who exchanged more than 65 calls and text messages in a 10-month period — well, those are some easily connected dots.

So now we wait. We wait for the NCAA to connect those dots officially and to render a judgment. If it’s anything like the investigation into Southern California, this could take a while. In the vacuum of information, though, we can speculate. Which is what I’m going to do right now.

I’m going to speculate that the NCAA finds enough wrong to level Oklahoma with a major violation. Oklahoma has prepared for such a finding by distancing itself from Taliaferro: “Don’t blame us,” Oklahoma symbolically told the NCAA by pushing Taliaferro out. “Blame him.”

But it’s not that easy. “Us” and “him” were the same thing when this violation allegedly went down. And if the NCAA connects enough dots to level Oklahoma with a major violation, then all hell should break loose.

Daughtery : In Defense Of Dusty

Posted in Baseball at 10:57 am by

The Reds are one of the early success stories of the 2010 season, but their impressive 26-20 mark atop the NL Central hasn’t stopped some observers (well, SI.com’s Tom Verducci) from continuing to cite Dusty Baker’s history of abusing young arms.  The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daughtery takes a different tact, praising Baker for removing Homer Bailey in the 3rd inning of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to Cleveland, sneering, “the CW on Baker as an arm-killer has been uttered so often, it™s all but assumed. It doesn™t matter that it made little sense when it originated and less sense now.”

Baker didn™t ruin Kerry Wood™s arm. Wood arrived with lousy mechanics and a violent delivery. He was Rob Dibble.

His arm was going to bust no matter who was ordering it around. He and Prior pitched their arms off in 2003, because the Cubs were under tremendous pressure to win their first pennant in 58 years. They were going to ride their two young horses hard, to that end. Baker didn™t act alone in going to that whip.

Harang? It was wrong that Baker pitched him three times in seven days, including that ill-fated four-inning relief stint in San Diego. But that was two years ago this week. Nothing is physically wrong with Harang.

Volquez? He threw 196 innings in ™08 and never stopped pitching, to stay in shape for the World Baseball Classic. Should Baker have hired a babysitter for Volquez in the Dominican?

Homer Bailey didn™t feel any pain Sunday. He didn™t hear a pop. He described the sensation in his shoulder as œa grabbing. There™s not a pitcher on earth who doesn™t go through this. It™s just part of pitching, Bailey said. œI™ve thrown 120 pitches one day, then joked with Bryan (Price, Reds pitching coach) the next day, ˜I can throw today if you need me.™™™

With that sort of admirable attitude, the mustang needs an occasional roping. Baker did exactly that on Sunday. I™m not hearing the praise.

Bailey had a suggestion for anyone believing his manager had messed with his arm: œThose people can shut up.™™

05.25.10

Tracking The Schmoozer’s Early Movements WIthout The Benefit Of Carbon Dating

Posted in Sports Radio, Sports TV at 4:38 pm by

WFAN’s Steve Somers is one of the station’s few mouthpieces to escape routine ridicule from this corner, and without going overboard in praise of the former overnight fixture, the above footage from September, 1982, only hints at what he might be capable of were the likes of SNY to grab onto his obvious star power.  Either them or that web tv venture that Richard Bey and Bob Grant are currently toiling for.

Randy Niemann’s Finally Managed To Enrage Someone More Powerful Than Frank Cashen

Posted in Baseball at 3:26 pm by

Lovers of Mets history will recall then-GM Frank Cashen declaring, “those who contribute the least spray the most champagne” after being doused by reliever Randy Niemann in the celebratory wake of the Amazins’ marathon victory in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS.  Remarkably, bullpen coach Niemann found himself in the middle of a far more relevant firestorm Sunday evening, allegedly participating in a shoving match with closer Francisco Rodriguez in the bullpen prior to the 9th inning conclusion against the Yankees. From the New York Times’ David Waldstein :

Afterward, Rodriguez said the tussle in the bullpen was just an instance of Mets relievers engaging in some roughhousing.

“We were just fooling around, he said. “We were just kidding with each other.”

But two people in the Mets organization confirmed that the confrontation between Rodriguez and Niemann was indeed a heated one and might have escalated if other pitchers had not intervened. A third member of the organization said that Rodriguez and Niemann met after the game and apparently patched things up.

At the heart of Sunday night’s incident is the Mets’ heavy reliance on Rodriguez to bail them out of one dangerous situation after another. With his own job on the line, Jerry Manuel has felt pressure to win every game he possibly can, even it means stretching Rodriguez’s normal limitations. He has had Rodriguez warm up more than once in the same game in case he is needed before the ninth inning; he has had Rodriguez come into the games where the Mets are still comfortably ahead.

On the night of the confrontation between John Maine and Manuel, for example, Rodriguez was summoned to pitch the ninth inning even though the Mets had a 10-6 lead and it was a nonsave situation. But just as in the 20-inning game against St. Louis in April, when Rodriguez warmed up 10 times before finally entering in the 19th inning, the Mets, and particularly Manuel, were in desperate need of a victory.

Pay Mickey: Rangers Declare Voluntary Bankruptcy, Reveal Extent of Tettleton-Related Debt

Posted in Baseball, Greedy Motherfuckers, Money at 2:43 pm by

I have pretty much gotten all the what’s-the-deal-with-owners ranting out of my system by this point, but the Texas Rangers’ voluntary declaration of bankruptcy today is a nice reminder that hijink-intensive ownership issues are not unique to the NBA. The bankruptcy deal was made necessary by the hilariously thorough mismanagement of former Rangers owner Tom Hicks (above) and his Hicks Sports Group, and is aimed at making easier the team’s planned sale by separating the Rangers’ team debt (roughly $75 million) from that of the Hicks Sports Group (a stunning $250 million); once the Rangers’ debtors are paid off, the sale becomes a snap. (The Hicks Sports Group debt promises to be another, more contentious story) The dramatis personae include all the characters we’ve come to know and loathe over the last couple of years of economic awfulness, from feckless millionaires to avaricious hedge funds to bailout-begging plutocrats, but the ending already seems clear: the Nolan Ryan-headed Ryan Baseball Express Group will likely assume ownership of the Rangers sometime in the next month or so.

In a blog post that’s schizophrenic even by business media standards, Forbes’ Wayne McDonnell examines the Rangers’ current situation:

At first glance, the Texas Rangers are a highly dysfunctional albatross to Major League Baseball. However, once you can get past the predatory hedge funds and voluntary bankruptcy filing, the Rangers are an attractive commodity. According to Baseball America, the franchise currently ranks second in all of Major League Baseball in organizational talent and are in the midst of modernizing the œMoneyball theory for pitchers. While franchises have become enamored with limiting pitch counts and innings pitched, Nolan Ryan and pitching coach Mike Maddux subscribe to an aggressive philosophy of pitching with its origins deeply rooted in an era dominated by the likes of Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale and Marichal.

Yes, once you get past the hedge funds, the new pitching metrics do look pretty good? Anyway, weird though that graf might be, it’s not necessarily wrong. The Rangers will clearly be in better hands with Ryan than they were with Hicks, who leaves an oil slick of a legacy that may reach its apotheosis in this listing of the Rangers’ creditors. Hicks owes over $24 million to Alex Rodriguez, still, and is $28k in debt to the New Era hat company, but he also owes millions to Mickey Tettleton (who last played for Texas in 1997) and Mark McLemore (who left in 1999), among other ex-players. Incompetence this multifaceted isn’t quite enough to make you pine for the cool competence of a jet-ski obsessed oligarch, but… well, I’m not a Rangers fan. Maybe it is.