Congratulations To The 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals…

Posted in Baseball at 3:43 am by

…but can someone please ask Tony La Russa to put his cap back on?  (image swiped from Eric Stangel)


Semi-Thoughtful In Simi Valley Writes, “Who Needs Pro Hoops When We’ve Got Jesus?”

Posted in Basketball, Merry Fucking Christmas, Religion, Sports TV at 7:39 pm by

Echoing sentiments once routinely expressed by deep thinker Colin Cowherd, the Ventura County Star’s Jim Carlisle (above) writes, “nobody — not even most players — pays attention to the NBA in November,”  Except for, y’know, actual basketball fans with anything approaching an attention span or appreciation for the game played at its hightest level.  Noting that the likely cancellation of a bigger chunk of the 2011-12 NBA season would mean eliminating an Xmas triple-header featuring Miami vs. Dallas, the Celtics visiting the Knicks and the Lakers traveling to Chicago, Carlisle observes, “I suppose it’s nice as fans to have NBA games on Christmas Day, but if they weren’t there, would we really notice? Would we really care? I really don’t think so.”

Unlike the other holidays, Christmas is not synonymous with the NBA. Christmas has enough going for it already, thank you: birth of a Savior, massive gift exchange, all that. The New Year’s Day hangover would be much worse without college football. Without the NFL, Thanksgiving would just be filled with family awkwardness, turkey and tryptophan.

When it comes to Christmas, the NBA, as usual, is a little too full of itself. The league stands to lose a lot more for not playing on Dec. 25 than we do. We might start missing the NBA a lot more in December, but we frankly don’t care that much if it plays on Christmas Day or not.

Sorry, what do you mean, “we”, Jim?  There’s no Savior of mine born on Christmas Day, I’m not exchanging gifts with any family and aside from getting as drunk as humanly possible (to forget the pain of shit sportswriting) I HAVE NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO that day other than the National Basketball Association.

I’m certain this post is also being read by other persons who are some combination of friendless, estranged from love ones, Jews, Muslims, Satanists, Atheiests and (hold on a moment) people who really like the NBA.  How willfully ignorant do you have to be to not acknowledge said audience is neither tiny or making a bad lifestyle choice?

Brad Bortone Humbly Suggests Theo Epstein Is Not The Most Compelling Figure Of The 2012 World Series

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:00 pm by

Of St. Louis’ ridiculous 10-9, 11 inning defeat of Texas last night — forcing a 7th game tonight, along with the inevitable “where does this game stand in an all-time ranking of greatest World Series games?” questions,  Joe Posnanski called it ” (an) imperfect game, bloated with mistakes and brain-lock and baffling choices, and then, absurdly, miraculously, it became the most wonderful game I can remember.” And while Posnanski and THE HIGHER POWER HIMSELF took an active interest in last night’s contest, Bugs & Cranks’ Brad Bortone opines, “I’m just disinterested, for no other reason than my own peers — sports journalists.”

We should all be writing about this series like it was bacon-flavored manna, but instead I’m swamped by endless Twitter updates about Robinson Cano’s contract, Big Papi’s desire to move on, and for some reason, a flood of email from New York beat writers about David Wright moving to Philadelphia. Hell, these writers are even pontificating about Albert Pujols’ new destination for 2012 and beyond, and not at all about his 3 HR performance from hours earlier.

How can I possibly maintain interest in baseball, when all everyone wants to do is wonder and speculate about 2012 and future contracts? And how can I care about two teams that wholeheartedly deserve to win, when it seems like all baseball media is focused on the new GM for a team that always loses?

When this Series — one for the ages — is done, it will most likely rapidly fade into the ether, it’s excellence muted by the next round of speculative commentary about contracts, team budgets, lopsided trades and other minutiae.

Just once, I wish we’d all just focus on baseball.

Proof There Aren’t Any Real Baseball Fans In The Metroplex…

Posted in Baseball at 1:09 pm by

…or perhaps, evidence the denizens of DFW just aren’t nearly that predictable.


You Can Start Calling Loftus Road The House Of Pain

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior at 6:42 pm by

QPR’s 1-0 defeat of West London rivals Chelsea last Sunday remains in the news due to allegations the latter’s John Terry aimed racial abuse at the R’s Anton Ferdinand, a charge the former England captain vehemently denies. The resulting controversy threatens to overshadow “the most significant aspect of QPR’s win”, opines the Telegraph’s Thom Gibbs. No, not the terribly refereeing, but rather, a home victory that “owed more to intimidation from the crowd than any I can remember in recent years.”

Chelsea lost their collective heads and looked decidedly uncomfortable as pantomime villains on such a claustrophobic stage. Rangers fans, as is the style on the continent, booed spells of Chelsea possession for much of the game. This has always seemed like an effective means of winding up a visiting team to me. Why doesn’t it happen at every ground?

It’s because almost every football supporter is insecure. Every team’s support (bar that tiresome few that routinely qualify for the Champions League) believes that when they foul up in farcical circumstances there was degree of inevitability about their capitulation, that it was “typical [insert team name here]”.

Some teams do summon consistently effective scare tactics. Stoke supporters have made the Britannia Stadium the archetypal “horrible place to visit,” and The New Den retains a special edge that’s a welcome contrast to the non-atmosphere at out-of-the-kit out-of-town stadiums.

For most other teams sustained aggression from their support is a difficult thing to maintain. It can only happen when the circumstances are right: the fans are largely behind the current team and manager; there’s an added spice to the game (it’s a derby or the return of a player or manager who departed in acrimonious circumstances); or if there’s a run of perceived officiating injustices to whip up outrage.

That British crowds can so rarely muster such intimidation is a shame for all underdogs. As QPR proved, a lot of people making a lot of noise can still make a huge difference to a football match.

Rays’ Maddon : MLB’s Proposed Beer Ban Is Knee-Jerkery At It’s Worst

Posted in Baseball, Beer at 12:31 pm by

(image swiped from Sportress of Blogitude)

“I have a sign in my clubhouse that says, ‘Integrity has no need of rules,'” boasts Tampa manager Joe Maddon (above) to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “These guys are grown-ups and why would I attempt to regulate their behavior?” Well, maybe because you don’t have Josh Beckett on your team? Though Maddon has little to say on the subject of fried chicken and Xbox 360, he takes a very dim view of Joe Torre considering an MLB-wide ban on beer in team clubhouses.

“I’m not into knee-jerk reactions,” Maddon told WEEI.com. “If somebody had all of these wonderful thoughts prior to this happening I may be more on board with it, or more empathetic to it. But all of this knee-jerk stuff that occurs in our game absolutely drives me crazy. If you want to be proactive about some thoughts, go ahead, be proactive and I’m all for that. But to say a grown-up can’t have a beer after a game? Give me a break. That is, I’m going to use the word, ‘asinine,’ because it is. Let’s bring the Volstead Act back, OK. Let’s go right back to prohibition and start legislating everything all over again. All that stuff pretty much annoys me, as you can tell.”

Maddon, whose team is one of 13 in Major League Baseball to allow beer in the clubhouse, said that players at the big league level should be allowed to regulate themselves in regard to such activities as the use of beer in the clubhouse.

“I don’t understand any of that. Do we sell beer in the ballpark? These people who attend the games have a much greater chance of becoming drunk by the time they leave than a baseball player does,” he said. “Most of the time if you have a beer after the game, it’s one, maybe two, and that’s it. I have a glass of wine. I defend there’s not a thing wrong with that. If they want to start pulling beers out of clubhouses they better start pulling them out of ballparks, too, because that’s a higher percentage chance of something going awry.”

La Russa Knows Art (When He Doesn’t See It)

Posted in Baseball, Cinema at 12:00 pm by

A few days removed from the bullpen phone debacle that put a modest dent in his genius reputation, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that he planned to spend last night’s World Series Game 6 rainout at a screening of “Moneyball”, “even though he despises the concept the film is based on.” Not, presumably, the concept of burying Art Howe in multiple mediums.

La Russa said he went once already and walked out on it.

“It’s our tribute to all the scouts and baseball people that were dissed by ‘Moneyball,’ ’’ he said. “That’s why I walked out of ‘Moneyball.’ ’’

Why is he down on the concept?

“On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years,’’ he said, “because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think that it’s all about getting on base by drawing walks. And the fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone.

“So if the pitcher knows that and the catcher knows that, they work the edges, and pretty soon it’s 2-and-1, 2-and-1 rather than 0-and-1 all the time.

“You watch your productive hitters in the big leagues, and they get a chance to drive in a run, they look for the first good strike, and the better the pitching, especially this time of the year, you get that first strike, that may be the last one that you get to see. So you’d better be ready to swing early. It’s not sitting up there and taking strike one, strike two so that you can work the count.’’