Free agent P Dallas Braden — he of the 2010 perfect game and subsequent bat-wielding incident in a Stockton, CA park, took to Twitter earlier today with the following question :
Replied Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, “pretty big talk for a guy who took nearly $7 million from the Athletics for a grand total of three starts between 2011 and 2012.” Also, no word yet from Braden if he’d advocate drug testing for the CEO’s of Citi, Goldman Sachs or Bank of America.
…but they’re undermining serious journalism, too. At least that’s the reasoning of newly ensconced ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte, who likens the network’s comedic “This Is SportsCenter” commercials to “Brian Williams and Secretary of State John Kerry in the NBC copy room, scanning each other’s butts.”
Seeing athletes in different clothes and without their game faces is a pleasure of the watching the ESPYS. I particularly enjoyed watching Christian Ponder, the Vikings’ quarterback — ESPN’s Ron Jaworski has him rated No. 27 of 32 in his NFL QB rankings — apparently auditioning for his next career as a broadcast jock. Supported by the former Samantha Steele, an ESPN reporter and now also his wife, Ponder interviewed the amiable likes of Houston defensive end J.J. Watt (by throwing little footballs over his head). Ponder is actor-cute in that indie-film- and-TV mumblecore way. If he doesn’t make Jaws’ top 20 this season, he should scramble for a role on a cop show.
I also enjoyed watching athletes in the audience guffawing, often a beat late, at dumb — and sometimes mean — jokes by host Jon Hamm, often at Dwight Howard’s expense. The message here is that it’s all entertainment, folks, as sports should be, whether Adrian Peterson is running long on his acceptance speech, or just running long.
But the ESPYS offer another message, much like the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner: We’re all in this together. It’s fine for news executives, columnists and anchors to party with politicians and lobbyists, to get to know them as human beings, just as it is fine for ESPN executives, columnists and anchors, to party with athletes (and maybe not to feel like green ants.)
The concern, though, is that viewers might be getting the idea that they are the rubes at these circuses, that the jocks and the pols who show up can expect, in return, access and favors from the media.
(Weiland, possible last minute entry for the NYC mayoral Democratic primary)
Over the years, I’ve certainly had any number of unkind things to say about former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist/occasional sports blogger Scott Weiland. But I’ve never been nearly so cruel as to to compare Weiland to someone nearly as universally despised as Ryan Braun, an analogy the Huffington Post’s Tom Semioli seems to think is entirely appropriate (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Fortunately for Weiland, his chosen entertainment profession is that of a rock star, so he continues to ply his craft and earn money, even after he was fired from his regular gigs. The supposedly “Stoned” Temple Pilot and Velvet Revolver crooner is currently on a summer tour singing his former band’s iconic 1990s anthems with a new ensemble. Ryan Braun is professionally inactive: he cannot ply his craft nor earn money.
Most American rock fans don’t take offense when their favorite rock entertainers use drugs. Baseball fans purchased product in record numbers during the “steroid era” of baseball entertainment. And when steroid use shortens the careers of certain baseball entertainers — new baseball entertainers, some of whom use drugs, take their place. Same deal with rock stars: when one dies or a career fades, another band comes along with songs and stories often fueled by drug experiences. The games and the gigs continue to thrive. And so do the drugs.
In America, that’s entertainment!
Note: Scott Weiland’s latest dismissal from STP has not been officially attributed to drug use.
Though I’m a little embarrassed to be taking the bait…here goes! Braun is accused of taking drugs that enhanced his performances. Conversely, Weiland is widely presumed to have consumed drugs that hampered his ability to perform his professional duties for one reason or another. And Braun is temporarily inactive — his contract has not been voided, and if he’s able to produce in the future at anything close to the numbers he’s alleged to have compiled under the influence of PED’s, he’ll continue to earn a decent living.
But at least Semioli didn’t compare Weiland to this guy.
White Sox play-by-play voice Ken Harrelson was profiled in Tuesday’s New York Times by Ben Strauss, with the Hawk’s tendency to sneer at sabermetrics (“an approach that could alternately be described as endearing or absurd”) being the focal point of the article. While Strauss calls Harrelson’s pronouncements, “Internet catnip”, even a defender like Bob Costas admits, “he’s not Vin Scully or Ernie Harwell”.
Harrelson maintains that he does, in fact, like numbers and that sabermetrics does have a valued place in baseball, but that he would prefer it be a role much more limited that it is now and that too much deference is being paid in general to numbers crunching. He called its rise over the last decade “the biggest joke I’ve ever seen.”
“Look down there at a guy like Gordon Beckham,” he said, peering down at the White Sox’ second baseman. “If you got someone who gets a chance to take him out on a double play — like me — I’m not going to take him out, I’m going to take him out into left field.
“So if the shortstop bobbles the ball, and I have a chance to get him, he knows that. Gordon will get busted and he’ll take the hit. There’s no number to define that in a player.”
“If I’m listening to the White Sox play the Indians, I’m listening for Hawk to tell a great story about Charlie Finley,” said Costas, who narrated an MLB Network documentary about Harrelson. “Or the time he was sitting with Mickey Mantle at an L.A. hotel and Marlon Brando walks in.
“If a guy doesn’t know what WAR is but he’s got good baseball war stories, I’ll take the trade-off.”
Though the American Association’s St. Paul Saints – whose ownership group includes “Disco Demolition” night pioneer Mike Veeck and occasional thespian Bill Murray – are no stranger to unusual promotions (eg. 2008’s Sen. Larry Craig Bobblefoot), August 9th’s event is in somewhat stark contrast to the Faith Nights presented at minor and major league parks around the country. As City Pages’ Aaron Rupar explains, on Saturday, August 9 when hosting the Sioux City Explorers, the Saints will tell religion to take a hike.
That night’s game at Midway Stadium is sponsored by the Minnesota Atheists, so the Saints will drop the “S” from their jerseys and signs around Midway Stadium, thereby becoming the St. Paul Aints.
The players’ jerseys will later be auctioned, with some of the proceeds going to the Family Place Shelter in St. Paul, a local shelter where Minnesota Atheists volunteers prepare monthly dinners for families in need. So you see, they’re not all Godless jerks.
The next day, the Minnesota Atheists are hosting an American Atheists regional conference at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for atheists to share our light-hearted, friendly nature,” Eric Jayne, president of Minnesota Atheists, said in a press release. “As a baseball fan and a local atheist leader, I am excited to partner with the St. Paul Saints in our efforts to increase atheist camaraderie and dispel negative stereotypes about atheists in the public eye.”
….or Carmelo Anthony. via Buster Olney, here’s a clip of the late George Scott being beaned by Dennis Martinez. Though I fondly recall both players’ contributions to the game, I must confess, I didn’t remember Martinez being nearly that fast getting off the mound.