04.25.10

Joe Queenan Hates Yankee Fans So Much He Can’t Even Stand Imaginary Ones

Posted in Baseball at 6:30 pm by


[Pictured:  I couldn’t find an image of Spencer Tracy as the Yankee-loving Cuban from the movie of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, but this reenactment from the CSTB photo dept pretty much sums it up.]

Fueling the fire for Yankee fans who like to bash The New York Times as anti-Bomber comes today’s column by … well I don’t know what Joe Queenan has been doing since he used to be an all around crank about middle-brow culture, and I can’t read his Wikipedia page just now as my kid is throwing popsicle sticks at the TV … but like politicians and prostitutes who all become respectable with age, any writer hanging around New York City long enough ends up in The New York Times.  Queenan offers up a solid anti-Yankee fan rant (via @gregmitch) here on the literary faux pas of assuming you’ll sympathize with any character in literature who loves the Yankees.  The column began as Queenan read David Benioff’s City of Thieves, or at least the first two pages thereof:

The narrator, the young boy™s grandson, reveals on Page 2 that after the war, his grandfather came to America and became a œdevout New York Yankees fan. I found this revelation crushing. The idea that someone who had escaped the siege of Leningrad would then voluntarily join the evil empire in the Bronx struck me as repellent. So I set the book aside and donated it to my library. Maybe some Yankees fan would enjoy it. I sure as hell wouldn™t.

I do not object to Yankees fans in principle, so long as they are homegrown, preferably natives of the Bronx or Yonkers. (Yankees fans born in Queens or Brooklyn, it goes without saying, are Iscariots.) But those of us who grew up in fiendishly inbred sports towns like Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis and even Boston cannot stomach the kind of parvenu, out-of-town front-runner who becomes a œdie-hard Yankees fan without any moral, cultural, ethnic, genetic or geographical connection with the team. And like most Americans, I reserve my greatest antipathy for the millions of bogus Yankees fans in the pink or green or red Yankees caps one routinely runs across in London, Rome, Sydney, Stockholm and Mombasa. Or, if driving, runs over.

34 Years Ago Today, Rick Monday Fought The Hippies (And The Hippies Lost)

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening at 12:15 pm by

(ED NOTE – On April 25, 1976, fans at Dodger Stadium paid to see a clash  between Los Angeles and the Cubs, but an impromptu game of Capture The Flag broke out in the outfield.   Ben Schwartz’ post on the subject was originally published in this space on 4/25/06)

30 years ago, former Cub Rick Monday saved an American flag from being burned on the field of Dodger Stadium. A legendary moment, recounted on the Cubs web site, but until now I never knew the important role Tommy Lasorda, then a Dodger 3rd base coach, almost played in Rick Monday’s heroic act. As Tommy modestly recounts:

“A lot of people don’t know this, but he beat me to the flag,” recalls Lasorda. “I saw Rick start running over from center field to left. I didn’t know what it was, but as soon as I saw him start, I took off and I ran out there, and of course, by that time, Rick had picked up the flag and continued running. When I got there, I see these two guys and I told them, ‘Why don’t one of you guys take a swing at me?’ because there were 50-something thousand people in the ballpark and I only wanted them to swing at me, so I could defend myself and do a job on them.”

Now you know the rest of the story …

04.23.10

Cubs Enter New Era of Yankee Level Spending, Debut New $91 Mil Set-Up Man

Posted in Baseball at 6:29 pm by

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[Cubs’  ex-ace and only no-hit set-up man, Carlos Zambrano, seen here with die-hard Cub fan Fidel Woo-Woo Castro, considers this a transitional move until “the Cubs get to the play-offs.” So, Z is cool with this until September 2011?]

All talk of of a conservative spending Ricketts regime (yes word-cops, I said “regime”) ends today as Lou Piniella moves Carlos Zambrano, bananas and all, to the bullpen.  Who’d a thought Carlos Silva would hold a starting position longer than Big Z?   The main reason, besides Zambrano’s refusal to be typecast as an “ace,” is that Theodore Roosevelt Lily is back from rehab and ready to start.  Carrie Muskat reports it all here, with the sad numbers speaking for themselves — Zambrano’s ERA is even high for the Cubs ‘pen.  Considering that the Cubs starting ERA with Z is 2.16, one can only hope Lily will give the North Side some real traction.  Too bad Youtube won’t allow a Hitler Finds Out Zambrano is in the Bullpen video.  Also, the pressing deadline of this post prevents me from a good Conan O’Brien bumping a guy from prime time George Lopez analogy, but just so you know, it’s there.

Overall, it’s a bold, creative move on Piniella’s part.  For a guy who couldn’t budge Fonzie from the lead-off spot last year, this is a big deal.  It should also shut up most of Z’s critics who think he’s an unmanageable egomaniac.  Ms. Muskat relates it all today:

“We need help in the eighth-inning role right now, and that’s what we’re trying to help ourselves in,” Piniella said.

Zambrano said Wednesday that he told Piniella he expects to be back in the rotation when the Cubs are in the playoffs.

“He did mention that,” Piniella said. “The playoffs are a long, long, long way away. Let’s just get through April right now.”

The move was expected to be temporary, but no one on the Cubs will say how long Zambrano will be in the bullpen.

“Let’s not put a time frame on it — let’s not do that,” Piniella said.

Zambrano will need a little more time to warm up before his relief appearances, and Piniella plans on using him only for one inning or 1 1/3 innings and not stretching him out too far.

“It’s a shock,” Marmol said of the news. “I never thought Zambrano would be in the bullpen. He’ll help the team, that’s what he says. I agree with him.”

Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny entered Thursday’s game with a combined 2.16 ERA in 11 starts. Zambrano was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his four starts. The bullpen needs reinforcements, having compiled a 1-6 record and 6.14 ERA.

03.12.10

Investopedia, Your Sociopath to Success

Posted in Greedy Motherfuckers, Money at 9:23 am by

[Lenny Dykstra: Hit with charges of sexual harassment, racism, and financial chicanery, yet claiming this week to be worth $100 million “ ah, nothing an hour of Suze Orman couldn’t fix.]

Hey, I like schadenfreude as much as the next guy.  In this economy, it’s my best entertainment dollar.  Still, I found Mark Riddix’ article on “investopedia.com” “ in which he details the respective financial collapse of, among others, Mike Tyson, John Daly, and Lenny Dykstra “ a pretty lame, opportunistic use of celebrity to sell Investopederast’s sponsor bullshit.   Riddix offers up some sad statistics via Sports Illustrated that 80% of NFL players consider bankruptcy within two years of retirement and 50% of NBA players are broke within five years.   Yes, you could boil it down, as Riddix does, to bad planning and bad business sense.  That’s an especially convenient analysis for a site that loads its articles themselves with links to gouging, amoral corporations like Bank of America (sure, I’d like advice on getting a Federal bailout just like BoA’s) or that peddle financial planning books .  But, in the cases of Tyson, Daly, and Dykstra, and many others, do you need a psychologist to see some truly screwed-up emotional, chemical, and criminal behavior?   Yes, Scottie Pippen buying a Gulfstream IV is retarded “ but is an egomaniac who thinks he needs a Gulfstream IV going to hire the right financial planner or buy the right book off Investopod in the first place?  It all completely misses the point of what happens when you offer people with no emotional stability piles of cash and massive celebrity because they have one marketable skill.  It means nothing to them.  How do you financially plan, or even understand what your planner is telling you, when you got through the NCAA on jock passes?  How do you financially plan when you’re a violent drunk or a sociopath?  Riddix goes thru these people and critiques their spending v.  income on a balance sheet.  It’s like pointing out to an alcoholic that you get drunk when you drink too much, so don’t drink so much.  Mission accomplished. I’m sure all Iron Mike’s problems are answered in a copy of 6 Months to a Better Budget. Writes Riddix:

Mike Tyson
The king of them all is boxer Mike Tyson, who squandered a $350 to $400 million dollar fortune. So what did “Iron” Mike spend his fortune on? Everything. He dropped half a million dollars on a 420 horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. It is one of only 73 Bentley Continental SC’s ever built. The sad part is that’s not even the only Bentley that Tyson owned! He spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune is down for the count. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

Conclusion
You can learn a lot by watching the poor financial decisions that many athletes have made. While you may never find yourself in Vegas about to drop $20,000 at the roulette wheel, we all have blind spots when it comes to certain types of spending. Looking at these formers millionaires’ rapid decline, you have to wonder when excessive spending goes from a manageable extravagance to a decision that will land you in the poorhouse. (For further reading check out 6 Months To A Better Budget.)

03.03.10

Cardinal Porn: Chuck Liddell Nude Workout Tape Filmed at Brad Penny’s House

Posted in Baseball, Boxing, Fitness, History's Great Hook-Ups, Modern Art, onanism, poker at 8:42 pm by

http://mopupduty.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/jose-canseco-at-bare-co-pho.jpg

[Tony LaRussa’s favorite couple: steroid tell-all author and McGwire accuser Jose Canseco and current embarrassment to the Cardinals org, poker-queen Miss Heidi Northcott.]

I’m happy to accuse the St. Louis Cardinals of almost anything, but soft core porn?  Who knew I’d be given the gift today of learning that the video of mixed martial arts bruiser Chuck Liddel and girlfriend Heidi Northcott working out nude was filmed at the home of St. Louis Cardinal Brad Penny?  As to what people do in the privacy of their own homes, I could care less.  However, if I can expand the current list of Cardinal embarrassments “ a DADT policy for injured players, an utterly unbelievable bubble of steroid denial from Tony LaRussa, the on-going family drama of baby-swatting former drug user Mark McGwire, not to mention the annual emotional dramas La Genius struggles with over perceived slights “ if I can add to that laundry list providing production facilities for soft-core fetish shoots, I’m only too happy to do so.  The odd thing is that the nude workout video was made without Liddell or Northcott’s knowledge, and they claim not to know who made it.   So, yes, I’ll be watching Brad Penny and the DL closely this year, looking for broken bones, concussions, busted noses, lost teeth, or anything else that might smack of a mixed martial arts ass-kicking.

The story and much-viewed video can be found here, with the AP reporting that Liddell “claims to have been at the house of Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny when he and Heidi ‘thought it would be funny’ to exercise naked. Liddell denies knowing who shot the footage, and while he does not sound particularly angry about the video, he says explaining it to his children is ‘hard.'”

Keep Hope Alive: Can Milton Bradley Finally Declare Victory?

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner at 9:57 am by

[Sully, caught in the act by yrs truly in 2009 at AT&T Park’s Press Box “ how he got in, I don’t know.  “This isn’t going up on the Internet is it?” asked Sully.  Weird, because every time I read a Sullivan story I ask the same damn thing.  Ben Schwartz/CSTB]

*** Update:  Looks like the Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer deserves some credit for pushing Byrd as “the anti-Bradley,” which Derrek Lee and the ESPN guys talk about below.  No surprise, since Wittenmyer is the same guy who celebrated Jackie Robinson Day 2009 by asking Milton Bradley to shut up .***

Jeez, I thought I’d written enough about the lameness of Chicago media and Milton Bradley.  If Bradley’s exit from the Friendly Confines did anything, it appears to have done some permanent damage to those who baited him from day one of his signing.  Apparently, the traumatic specter of an uppity black man not “yes, sirring” and “no sirring” the paunchy middle-brows of Chicago’s sporting press can’t be shaken, specifically by the Trib‘s Paul Sullivan.  With Spring Training open, Sully went right back to racially profiling a player not even on the squad anymore versus the Cubs’ new hire, Marlon Byrd.  And without Bradley’s own volatile personality as a distraction, what Sullivan did all last year is now painfully obvious.  Wrigleyville 23 astutely picked up on Sullivan’s obsessions here, via a Sully tweet from camp.  Then, Bruce Levine and Jonathon Hood, without naming Sullivan, brought up his profiling issue (and Wrigley’s racist rep in the league) with Derrek Lee on their ESPN 1000 “Talkin’ Baseball” show:

“It’s ridiculous,” Lee told Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on ESPN 1000’s “Talkin’ Baseball” Saturday morning. “If it was a white guy who came over [to the Cubs] would he be [called] the ‘anti-Milton Bradley’? It just makes no sense. Marlon’s a completely different guy. He wasn’t traded for Milton. He signed here as a free agent, so why even bring Milton Bradley’s name into it? It really makes no sense and it’s just, again, the media trying to make something out of nothing.”

Bradley’s tenure with Cubs was tumultuous, with the switch-hitting right fielder accusing some fans of hurling racially charged taunts his way at Wrigley Field.

Lee said that Bradley’s accusations and similar comments from former Cub Jacque Jones don’t help in luring African-American players to the North Side.

“It’s definitely not a positive when you’re looking at coming to Chicago,” Lee said. “But I think overall, the positives do outweigh the negatives and we’re baseball players, so we’re pretty good at kind of blocking out all of that outside stuff and focusing on in between the lines. And in between the lines, Chicago’s a good place to play.”

Milton Bradley’s 2009 at Wrigley was a disaster, but at least those who wanted it that way and worked so hard for it are getting some of the credit.

02.28.10

Pete Hamill Ponders Willie Mays, Baseball’s Last Four Sewer Hitter

Posted in Baseball at 1:29 pm by

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[Pictured, the real Willie Mays still dwarfed by his mythic image.]

It goes to show you how deeply steroids = baseball itself to some people, when Pete Hamill, reviewing the new Willie Mays bio in The New York Times, writes:

A long time ago in America, there was a beautiful game called baseball. This was before 30 major-league teams were scattered in a blurry variety of divisions; before 162-game seasons and extended playoffs and fans who watched World Series games in thick down jackets; before the D.H. came to the American League; before AstroTurf on baseball fields and aluminum bats on sandlots; before complete games by pitchers were a rarity; before ballparks were named for corporations instead of individuals; and long, long before the innocence of the game was permanently stained by the filthy deception of steroids.

In that vanished time, there was a ballplayer named Willie Mays.

And how.  For the record, ‘Ol Man Hamill appears to approve of desegregated baseball, night games, and (maybe) West Coast baseball.  And as a blogger without a copyeditor, I appreciate his use of sentence fragments throughout his piece.  Still, his dreamy memories and tired nostalgia in reviewing the new James Hirsch Willie Mays biography make your teeth grind all over again re the steroids era.  I’m guessing this is the first thing Hamill ever read about Willie Mays, since his impression of WM derives almost entirely from when Hamill was 12.

I mentioned Mays last week when Ernie Banks went off on steroids and Sammy Sosa.  Do the amphetamine driven ballplayers of Mays’s era deserve the same asterisks and loathing?  Hamill says that San Francisco’s windy Candlestick Park probably robbed Mays of over 100 HRs in his career.  He glosses over how many extra games, hits, HRs, whatever that Mays’ drug use may have brought him.  Mainly, I guess because Hirsch’s book does the same.  Mays nor anyone else from back then needs an asterisk, nor do Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig for never facing a black ballplayer (well, ok, yes, that last era does).   Mays also gained lots of HRs in his lifetime as new ballparks were built as hitters parks …  However, only the adolescent perfection of Hamill’s pre-teen Brooklyn seems to matter as a yardstick here.  To him, steroids are apparently the only thing in baseball history that has “permanently stained” the innocence of the game.  Not segregation (90 years of it?), not pre-steroid era drugs, bans on free agency, the Black Sox, not the pre-union days of discarded and broken players without health care, not the totally arbitrary “golden age” of NY Babe Ruth baseball  v reality in determining records and Hall of Fame ballots or standards of achievement … nope, just steroids.  And Astro-turf.  Guys like Hamill wring their hands over the day they realized baseball is a big business.  For him, it was when the Dodgers moved to LA.  For a lot of us non-NewYorkers, that’s the day NYC finally ceased to be the center of baseball.

Ok, it’s just a game.  For many of us, it’s history, reflecting life in America.  That’s the real value of Hirsch’s book, and why reexamining Mays’ career again is worth while.   It’s not that Mays needs a takedown.  His career makes him worthy of serious treatment.  Not for this Paul Bunyon hooey of Hamill’s:  “The result: Hirsch has given us a book as valuable for the young as it is for the old. The young should know that there was once a time when Willie Mays lived among the people who came to the ballpark. That on Harlem summer days he would join the kids playing stickball on St. Nicholas Place in Sugar Hill and hold a broom-handle bat in his large hands, wait for the pink rubber spaldeen to be pitched, and routinely hit it four sewers. The book explains what that sentence means. Above all, the story of Willie Mays reminds us of a time when the only performance-enhancing drug was joy.”

If memory serves, that four sewer moment of Mays playing ball on Sugar Hill was staged for Life magazine.  It’s why people recall it so vividly. The press was there to cover it for a national magazine, as PR, to inform kids like Hamill of a myth that they still hold dear and insist on selling us today.