April 11, 2014
Confusing Color Blindness
John Shea (SF Chronicle) told us what you might not know about baseball’s new replay system — but ought to.
“After a third out, a manager who’s considering a challenge must be on the field within 10 seconds and has another 30 seconds to challenge. The crew chief is supposed to hold the defensive players on the field. And TV can’t go to a commercial. Through it all, if the crew chief thinks a club is too slow to challenge, he can rule the play won’t be reviewed. The call would stand. A “field timing coordinator” is to manage TV breaks. He is to flash a red card to the press box (and communicate via headset) to show the inning break has commenced. A blue card shows a pitcher is throwing his final warm-up and that 45 seconds remain in the break. A yellow card shows the batter is leaving the on-deck circle and heading to the plate and that 25 seconds remain in break. A green card shows the break is over. The umpire can’t resume play until a green card is flashed.
In Proper Perspective
The Sports Curmudgeon looked at Miguel Cabrera’s recently signed contract and wrote: “Overshadowing any news coming out of March Madness results is the announcement that the Detroit Tigers will pay Miguel Cabrera $292M over the next ten years. The way it works out, Cabrera gets an 8-year extension (at $248M) on top of the two years that he has left on his current contract. Moreover, there is a vesting option in the contract that might extend the deal two more years beyond the basic 10 years and those additional years will harvest $30M each for Cabrera. That would bring Cabrera’s total compensation for this contract extension to $352M. Let me put that figure into perspective for you. According to United Nations data for 2012 (latest figures I could find), there are 7 member states of the UN whose GDP is less than $352M and there are 3 additional “dependent territories” with GDPs less than $352M.”
Gene Collier (Pgh. Post-Gazette) wrote about big ticket pitchers and their disabilities. “There’s no point in suggesting that baseball players operate under a drastically different physical ethos than, for example, hockey players, even if it sometimes seems that in baseball you can make your way to the DL with bruised feelings while some hockey players can bleed enough to fill a trash barrel and not miss more than a shift.
All right maybe two.
Injuries are inevitable, obviously, but you would think that four or five months away from the game would be enough to get just about everybody ready for a couple of pennant races. Spring training was once a vehicle for getting everyone in shape and ready for a six- or seven-month grind, but now it’s an apparent quest to see how many pitchers you can injure in six or seven weeks. Clayton Kershaw’s $215 million deal pushed him to the head of the income class past Detroit’s $180 million Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46 last year), Seattle’s $175 million Felix Hernandez (12-10, 3.04), the Yankees’ $161 million C.C. Sabathia (14-13, 4.78), and Sabathia’s new rotation mate, Masahiro Tanaka, who has secured a $155 million deal without the inconvenience of actually having to throw a major league pitch yet.
Now will that cost extra?
At these prices, it’s no wonder owners and general managers and player development wizards are so careful with their investments — counting pitches, calculating arm angles, plotting the day when MRIs are routinely done between innings.
Presumably, all this caution will one day result in fewer arm injuries and intact rotations on the eve of opening day.
Pitchers are advised not to hold their breath though. They’ll probably blow out an elbow.
I Still Bristle A Little
Every time I hear that Dr. Frank Jobe saved the careers of countless major leaguers I feel that I have to yell out, “Hey what about Dr. Anthony Pisani.” He was an innovative orthopedic surgeon who worked with the football- Giants more than 20 years earlier and also worked on me.
He inserted a 5” woodscrew through the tip of my humerous, into my shoulder blade allowing me to raise my elbow paralyzed, from polio.
These thoughts are from Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com), “When “student-athlete” is thrown around at the Final Four, it’s impolite to ask how many class days the players have missed the last month.
What’s even more thought-provoking than Angels outfielder Mike Trout signing a six -year, $144.5 million extension is he’ll be eligible for free agency when he’s all of 28. What kind of record-setting contract might he command then?”
Greg Cote’s (Miami Herald) Notes
“ Dodgers hitting coach Don Baylor sustained a broken leg while catching his team’s ceremonial first pitch on its Opening Day. Maybe someone said “break a leg” to wish him luck, and he took it literally. Parting thought: Still don’t have enough reasons yet to hate Johnny Manziel? Here’s another. His lawyers have filed a trademark claim on the phrase, “The House That Johnny Built.” (Lord how I wish I were kidding.)”
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) Patter
“Andrew Wiggins didn’t really just say that, did he?
‘I wish I just had more time,’ the freshman phenom remarked upon declaring he was heading for the NBA after seven months at Kansas, ‘College goes by so fast.’”
One this year’s top fantasy-baseball team names, from SportsPickle.com: Honey-Nut Ichiros.
“Alan Ray, questioning the logic of baseball’s new instant-replay system: ‘You really want to watch the Mets do that again’?
“Did any pro athletes’ ears perk up when President Obama spoke about the importance of increasing the minimum wage?
In the NBA, minimum salary is $507,336… $500,000 in Major League Baseball…$420,000 in the NFL…”
“What do you get when you cross Ben-Gal with Ben-Gay?
Answer: Brenda Gold, who is trying out for the Cincinnati Bengals cheer squad.”
There seems to be a growing false sense of entitlement among some of our ELECTED officials. These “Pols” make appointments for which they are terribly late or absent all together. They aren’t that big a deal that they can continually ignore the “little people.”
April 4, 2014
Yankees And Mets Total Wins
I agree with the ESPN.com guys (Matthews & Marchand) about the Yankees outlook. I’m guessing, because that’s really all it can be right now, that the Yankees will ring up wins in the low 90’s and squeak into the post season as a wild card.
The Mets on the other hand have too many questions following them north from Florida- hitting, fielding, pitching. If I had to guess, I would say between 80 and 85.
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) quoted Darren Rovel (ESPN.com), “Miguel Cabrera will earn $46,423 PER AT BAT over the next decade- median household income of a household in Michigan: $48,471.” Never mind Michigan; New Yorkers would like a chance to swing a bat for that.
Rich Cimini (ESPNNY.com) wrote about some changes in Woody Johnson’s thinking, “”I’m not going to use the word ‘patient’ anymore,” Johnson told reporters. “We want to do it now.”
Rex Ryan doesn’t have that much time. If he misses the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year, it would be difficult to see him keeping his job. Yes, he received a contract extension after a better-than-expected season, but all that did was give him an extra year of security, with guaranteed salaries through 2015.
Demonstrating his win-now approach, Johnson confirmed the team’s interest in Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who reportedly is on the trading block (for allegedly having gang affiliations). It was stunning because of tampering rules — team officials aren’t supposed to comment on opposing players — and because of the Jets’ secretive ways.
I say, “Good for him.” Finally, a straight answer from a Jets official.’
The Jets have acquired three new players in free agency, all on offense — Decker, quarterback Michael Vick and right tackle Breno Giacomini. The defense is worse than it was at the end of last season. The Jets still have the draft, and still have time to plug holes. But the expectations are higher than 2013. They got even higher Sunday, when Johnson opened his mouth.
“Look at the difference between last year and this year,” Johnson said. “The team can turn very fast in the NFL. You saw Seattle. I’ve seen a lot of teams that came from the bottom … that weren’t doing that well, to winning Super Bowls. So, it’s there. I think we’re trying to put ourselves in position to accomplish those objectives.”
No Demand For Pay
John Feinstein (DC Post) wrote about that union vote by Northwestern football players, “Let’s be clear: At no point has anyone involved in the Northwestern case on the players’ side suggested they be paid. Unions are formed when management refuses to discuss any change in working conditions and employees’ only recourse is to band together and try to force change. For years, the NCAA has refused to consider any real changes to its treatment of athletes in revenue sports. It is spending millions of dollars to fight a lawsuit that would allow athletes to share in any licensing revenue from video games in which their likenesses are used. The NCAA essentially behaves as a 2-year-old: Everything, every dollar, is “mine.” The NCAA should stop whining about how much this might cost, stop spending millions on legal fees, stop trying to scare people and sit down with the players and negotiate. That would be the right thing to do. It would also have the extra benefit of being the smart thing to do. Now that would set a precedent.”
Andy Katz (ESPNNY.com) gave us some background, “Two former Rutgers basketball players (Jerome Seagears and Robert Lumpkins) filed a civil suit in a New Jersey court Thursday against the school, former administrators, ex-coach Mike Rice and current coach Eddie Jordan. Seagears transferred to Auburn after Rice was fired, but stayed only a few weeks before returning to Rutgers. He played this past season, but reportedly will transfer again. The lawsuit claims that Seagears was removed from the starting lineup, was kicked out of practice and suspended from the team without reason or justification. Jamon Hicks, who is representing the two former Rutgers players and filed the suit Thursday in Middlesex County Superior Court, said Jordan retaliated against Seagears for seeking legal counsel. “As to Coach Jordan, we believe the evidence will ultimately show that the coach retaliated against Mr. Seagears after a Feb. 4, 2014, newspaper article announced that Mr. Seagears had exercised his constitutional right to obtain legal counsel,” Hicks told ESPN Thursday. “He retaliated against him by drastically reducing his minutes, removing him from practice on several occasions without cause, and removing him from the team without cause. All of these actions were done in violation of Mr. Seagears’ rights.”
William Weinbaun (ESPNNY.com) writing for ESPN alerted us to something that has the potential to turn into an industry changing event. “The family of brain-damaged Russian heavyweight boxer Magomed Abdusalamov filed a lawsuit against multiple parties — including five New York State Athletic Commission doctors — alleging recklessness, gross negligence and medical malpractice.
The lawsuit comes nearly five months after Abdusalamov suffered traumatic brain injuries during a 10-round loss to Mike Perez. Other parties named in the lawsuit include the referee, the commission’s inspector, Madison Square Garden and K2 Promotions.
After Abdusalamov was battered and bloodied in going the distance the night of Nov. 2 against Perez, he was brought by taxi from the Theater at Madison Square Garden to Mt. Sinai Roosevelt Hospital some 25 blocks away. He underwent life-saving surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain nearly three hours after his fight ended, but the native of the Republic of Dagestan suffered multiple strokes and was in a coma for weeks.”
First of all, Perez hit the victim with a clearly foul blow with his forearm. Perez should have been DQ’d at that point with Abdusalamov going for x-rays of his face and head. When the victim got back to his dressing room, the commission DR’s allowed Abdus, to travel to the hospital by taxi not thinking his complaints of headaches were that serious.
March 28, 2014
Vick-tory- I Think Not
I’ve never liked Michael Vick’s game. I’ve thought he’s always been more of a self-promoting divisive force than a uniting one; but, maybe I’m wrong.
Rich Cimini (ESPNNY.com) took a similar track, “It sounded like Idzik was reading from talking points, emphasizing their objective is to build for the long term. Example: “When we define winning, it’s not winning the first week of free agency, it’s not winning the draft, it’s not winning our preseason games. (Don’t tell that to Ryan, who sacrificed a quarterback last summer to win the MetLife Snoopy trophy). It’s winning going forward in what we do. It’s sustainable success.” Unless he’s playing to play only one corner in the base defense, they’d better start doing some winning in this offseason.”
The Big Orange Said
Ian Begely (ESPNNY.com) talked about the Syracuse U. b-ball coach, Jim Boeheim who said about Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson, “Boeheim believes Jackson is a huge addition to the Knicks’ front office, but must attract a “difference-maker” to help Anthony, who will turn 31 in 2015. “I think Phil Jackson brings a lot of credibility to that organization, $12 million worth,” Boeheim said with a laugh. “Sixty [million over five years], that’s a lot. I’m sure he’s going to have the power to do things. It is a good place to play but it hinges so much on who can you really get to come there? Can you get a difference-maker? It’s a lot more stable when you have something like Indiana where they have a bunch of good players. But it’s how they figure this out. Phil Jackson, The Zen Master, also said that on the U.S. Olympic team, Anthony doesn’t have to do as much because he’s surrounded by stars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant and “that he can play a role if he has to play a role.”
Boeheim echoed those thoughts.
“He plays better on the Olympic team because he doesn’t have to do as much,” he said. “He doesn’t have to work that hard. He has to work too hard here [with the Knicks]. It’s too much. He gets the ball in one-on-one situations with 10 seconds left and he has to go and make a play over a good defender with help. He’d be much better [with more help]. On the Olympic team he shoots 55 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3 because he’s getting good shots without having to go one-on-one all the time.
“He’d be much better with some guys like that.”
Here are a few college b-ball thoughts from Bob Molinaro, “Lord, have Mercer! Duke’s loss Friday – the way Mercer closed things out with a 20-8 run – cements my belief that this was Mike Krzyzewski’s worst team in many years as far as basketball IQ is concerned. Its lack of defensive cohesion, revealed by how easily Mercer beat the Blue Devils off the dribble and with cuts to the basket, was very un-Duke like, except this sort of thing happened too often all season. It wasn’t the mentally or physically toughest team, either. Fit Mercer with the glass slipper, but Duke was overrated.
At 71, crusty former UConn coach Jim Calhoun reportedly wants to be considered for the vacant Boston College job. He’s got a resume of winning. But if longevity is an issue, a better choice among New England prospects might be Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, whose team beat Cincinnati Thursday in the NCAAs.”
A Cote Mote
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) said that, “Tiger Woods withdrew from another tournament amid concerns his balky back might still be bothering him during next month’s Masters. The question of Tiger used to be, ‘Is he back?’ Now it’s, ‘Is his back back?’”
I was watching a TV ad for Rocky, The Broadway musical and began thinking about the original Rocky- Chuck Wepner. Wepner was a journeyman fighter not a “ham-and-egger” or a “tomato can” in any way. He came by his nickname, “The Bayonne Bleeder” honestly and with good reason.
I was talking with Randy Newman one night at the Hammerstein Ballroom (when I was still could walk), before the evenings first bout of a Lou DiBella sponsored Broadway Boxing card. I said that he and Chuck Wepner fought some historical matches and he told me about their match in March of ’74. This was the type of night where the first three rows of fans would have been better off wearing raincoats as if they were going to attend a Gallagher concert (Wepner and Newman fought three times and none of their fights went the distance). In that fight, as with their other meetings, there was a lot of blood all over the place.
During one clinch Wepner asked referee Tony Perez not to stop the fight on cuts because he was going to sign a deal to meet Muhammed Ali for a big payday. Perez told Wepner it wasn’t his blood, it belonged to Newman. Chuck said, “You better stop the fight, Tony, before this guy bleeds to death.”
Wepner finished with a 35-14, 17 KO record. Wepner met Ali in 3/75 and was stopped in the 15th by TKO (on cuts, naturally). Newman was 31-3, 11 KO.
Brad Dickson (Omaha World-Herald) on the pro-rasslin’ dinner theater in Kissimee, FL., “This is for diners who don’t mind when a 450-pound Russian lands on their salad.”
Web Gem Dept.
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) noted that, “The world wide web turned 25.
Coincidence? 1989 was also the last year the Oakland A’s strung together three W’s in a World Series”
“The Dodgers and Diamondbacks open the 2014 baseball season in Australia.
‘If the teams get off to a bad start,’ wondered Jerry Perisho, ‘will their entire season go down the drain counterclockwise?’”
The Sports Curmudgeon quoted Brad Dickson (Omaha World-Herald), “The Oakland A’s are advertising for employees to spend next season running around the field in mascot heads. Finally, the Obama jobs plan begins to pay dividends.”
March 21, 2014
I have Florida, Virginia, Louisville, and Creighton as my Final Four and Florida winning the whole thing. But remember, my record is terrible.
Roster Feng Shui
Ohm Youngmusic (ESPNNY.com) wrote about the tasks facing Phil Jackson. “Jackson will have to find a way to apply his own brand of feng shui to Madison Square Garden and the disorganized clutter that is the Knicks.
Moving some of the expensive furniture to improve the balance and flow of the Knicks’ energy is now the biggest basketball challenge of Jackson’s career. Convincing Michael Jordan to sacrifice his ego, coaxing Scottie Pippen to get over Toni Kukoc and getting Kobe and Shaq to coexist and play nice is child’s play compared to fixing the Knicks. Jackson’s first major decision to meditate on is whether to keep Carmelo Anthony as the franchise’s centerpiece. Can Jackson build championship harmony around Anthony? Does Anthony have the kind of greatness in him that Jackson has been so fortunate to have been surrounded by throughout his charmed basketball life?
Should Jackson decide to build around Anthony, then Melo should listen to Jackson’s plan and stay. While Anthony likely won’t have Jackson to coach him, the Knicks’ superstar should see if Jackson’s tutelage can have a transformative effect on his game. All the proof he needs is to look at the profound and lasting impact the former Bulls and Lakers coach had on Jordan and his good friend Kobe Bryant. We had a statement that we must have repeated so many times to the players,” Jackson once said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on OWN. “No man is an island. No man goes his way alone. What I put into the lives of others will come back into its own.” “Those words, sometimes, are difficult for the boys to hear,” Jackson said of the “no man is an island” statement. “So then I would say, ‘Do you understand what I’m saying? No man goes his way alone. We’re in this together.’”
While Melo isn’t yet a top-50 all-time great like MJ or Kobe, he is a top-10 talent with top-three scoring ability in today’s NBA. For all the things Melo does well, he still can improve on the two most vital skills for an elite superstar — winning in the playoffs and making his teammates better.
Those are two of Jackson’s strengths. It remains to be seen whether Anthony, who turns 30 at the end of May, can still improve and make that great leap from elite scorer to ultimate winner.
But Jackson, more than anybody else, can show Melo how he doesn’t have to do everything on his own and hopefully provide him with the kind of supporting cast he desperately needs.
“Carmelo has to be a better passer,” Jackson told HBO’s Real Sports in 2012. “And the ball can’t stop every time it hits his hands. They need to have someone come in that can kinda blend that group together.” “Anthony says,” Ohm Youngmusk (ESPNNN.com) wrote, “He will opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. He can re-sign with the Knicks to a max deal worth $129 million over five years. If he signs with another team, he can do so for four years and $96 million, barring a sign-and-trade. “As far as knowing what it takes to win, Phil is the best to ever do it,” Anthony said. “So for me to be able to have the opportunity and have him by my side, for him to teach me, you know, because I’m still willing to learn the game of basketball. “And I haven’t won anything [and] he’s won a lot. I can learn a lot from him and his system, things that he wants to incorporate here. I’m hoping and praying this all works. “From a basketball standpoint, he’s a great mind to dissect,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. “And also from a spiritual standpoint, he is known as the Zen guy, so that would be great to sit down and have a great conversation with him.”
“Everybody as an organization, as a city, as a whole, our fans in general as well, everybody’s excited to see that,” Anthony said. “We are playing good basketball right now too, so it’s like a lot of things coming into place right now.”
Stephen A. Smith (ESPNNY.com) gives us a warning, “Before New York Knicks fans get themselves all up in a tizzy just because Phil Jackson is coming to town, they would be wise to check the fine print, scour the particulars and triple-check exactly what stipulations owner James Dolan has insisted upon. Because, chances are, the Knicks’ billionaire chairman didn’t institute real change. In fact, I believe he plans on keeping things just the way they have been.
Which means Jackson will primarily serve as a figurehead — a prop — to fend off the media. Which means Carmelo Anthony will see right through it all and leave the team this summer. Which means that no real marquee free agent will want to come to Madison Square Garden, unless it’s only for the money.
Oops, I forgot — Hello, Mr. Phil Jackson. How ya doing? Question: Why, exactly, did you take this job? To be fair, no aspersions should be cast against a man with 11 championship rings and two more as a player with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973. Show me the fool who’d turn down a $12 million per-year deal to run a franchise, and we’ll have learned what a new fool looks like.”
From Greg Cote (Miami Herald), “Bacardi Sailing Week ended. Nobody finished the race because everybody was too drunk on rum.”
“Idaho hockey fans are suing a Boise arena for selling large beers with the same amount as small beers. That’s shocking. Who knew there were hockey fans in Idaho?”
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) Says- “Peavy Does It”
“Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy finally made his spring-training debut after he cut a finger with a fishing knife.
Coincidence? Scouts say he suddenly has a much nastier hook and sinker.”
March 20, 2014
I was watching a TV ad for Rocky, The Broadway musical and began thinking about the original Rocky- Chuck Wepner. Wepner was a journeyman fighter not a “ham-and-egger” or a “tomato can” in any way. He came by his nickname, “The Bayonne Bleeder” honestly and with good reason. I was talking with Randy Newman one night at the Hammerstein Ballroom (while I was still able to walk), before the evenings first bout of a Lou DiBella sponsored Broadway Boxing card. I mentioned to him that he and Chuck Wepner fought some historical matches and he told me about their match in March of ’74. This was the type of night where the first three rows of fans would have been better of wearing raincoats as if they were going to attend a Gallagher concert (Wepner and Newman fought three times and none of their fights went the distance). In that fight, as with their other meetings, there was a lot of blood all over the place. In one clinch Wepner asked referee Tony Perez not to stop the fight on cuts because he was going to sign a deal to meet Muhammed Ali for a big payday. Perez told Wepner it wasn’t his blood and Chuck said, “You better stop the fight, Tony, before this guy bleeds to death.”
Wepner finished with a 35-14, 17 KO record. Wepner met Ali in 3/75 and was stopped in the 15th by TKO. Newman was 31-3, 11 KO.
March 14, 2014
The Agents’ Goals Are Different
Chris Broussard (ESPNNY.com) wrote about the negotiations with Phil Jackson. “While Knicks owner James Dolan will pay Jackson handsomely to make basketball decisions, Dolan is still expected to maintain a voice in terms of decision-making, the source said. Bringing Jackson aboard could move the Knicks away from their ties to Creative Artists Agency, the player- and coach-representation firm that many league insiders, including some Knicks players, believe has an inordinate amount of influence within the franchise.
Assistant general manager Allan Houston, coach Mike Woodson, player personnel director Mark Warkentien and star forward Carmelo Anthony are all CAA clients.
One Knicks player recently told ESPN.com that the CAA ties were a problem in the locker room.
“You see how guys from CAA are treated differently,” the player said. “How they get away with saying certain things to coaches. How coaches talk to them differently than they talk to the other guys. It’s a problem.”
I feel that Jackson might still be trying to get a piece of the Lakers from Jerry Buss with his delays. Will his girl friend Jeannie Buss, Jerry’s daughter, come to NY? Of course I could be entirely wrong. But, it’s possible.
That CAA business is still a big problem. Their interests are in bigger client contracts, which pay them more money not Knicks wins that don’t.
Gee, Do You Think?
“The Logo” gave the Post a sort of an explanation, “Jerry West told The New York Post, ‘Coaching and being an executive are different things. But he has a lot to draw on in terms of experience with players, how to organize teams and how to put them together. The biggest thing to learn is that you’re going to need a lot of really good players.’” I don’t think anyone, even Red Auerbach, could win without good players/
What’s Worth Challenging, What’s Not
The Boz (Thomas Boswell- DC Post) posed that strategy question. “So far, nobody has more than an inkling of what’s smart, what’s dumb and who’s going to figure out the Challenge Edge first. Yummy. MLB had a brilliant idea with its new system. It’s so perfect you wonder if it was an accident. A team is guaranteed only one challenge for a whole game — just one precious challenge. If you get that challenge correct, then you get a second challenge. But that’s all — there’s never a third. Do you challenge a call in the third inning, when your chance of winning changes by just a half-percent, and risk a mistake that may haunt you the rest of the game? What if, in extra innings, you have no ability to demand a replay of a three-run play — perhaps a diving catch of a bases-loaded fly ball with two outs in a 4-2 game that’s ruled a “trap” not a catch? Under the new rules, all you can do is beg the crew chief to ask for a replay himself. He can. I suspect he probably would. But what if he didn’t? What if he thought he saw the play clearly? What if he hates your guts as much as Ron Luciano hated Earl Weaver? (It happens.)
In many close games this season, one team will be out of challenges while the other still has its challenge and, potentially, another one, too. That is going to feel like an advantage, whether it ever becomes a factor or not. Will it play on the minds of the teams? Is there added psychological value in holding back your challenge even if you have a base stealer incorrectly called out in the fourth inning? Or will the failure to challenge be seen as gutless?
My guess is at least half the plays in a typical game aren’t worth challenging unless you are virtually certain of winning. Remember: The video replay team that will review all plays from a central studio in New York (nicknamed “BAM,” for Baseball Advanced Media) may lean toward “inconclusive.” Will they really reverse all the possibly “wrong” calls decided by an inch or two? Isn’t this system’s purpose to prevent miscarriages of justice — not to nitpick? But the greatest benefit to the game — and to our fun — may be the addition of the second-guess of the challenge. You can almost hear the hubbub, as video screens in parks will be allowed to show controversial replays. Thumbs up, thumbs down? Use it! Save it! Love it.
Si, Si But Not Yet
Wallace Matthews wrote about CC Sabathia’s struggles, “Necessity is the mother of reinvention, and at 33 years old — he turns 34 in July — Sabathia may be facing the toughest challenge of his career as he transitions from power pitcher to simply pitcher. And there’s no way we’re going to know if he can do that off this start, or the one after that or the one after that. In fact, it may take a healthy chunk of the regular season before we can even begin to make a fair judgment on how much Sabathia has left, and how much he can contribute to the Yankees this season, and for the remaining two seasons — plus an option — remaining on his contract.
Of course, plenty of pitchers have had great careers with the kind of repertoire Sabathia seems to have now. Tom Glavine rode an 89 mph fastball all the way to Cooperstown, and David Wells never threw much harder.
The difference is, those guys started out like that. They never had to make the kind of adjustment Sabathia is going to have to make now. That is the challenge that faces him, and none of us should expect him to make it overnight. Suffice it to say that Sabathia’s changeup, a huge part of his arsenal in 2009, will be a key pitch for him this season.
The Sports Curmudgeon asked, “How come Tiger Woods’ back injury is only sufficiently debilitating to force him to withdraw from inconsequential tournaments after it is apparent that he is so far behind that he cannot possibly catch the leaders?
I’ll hang and wait for your answer.”
March 7, 2014
All You Really Need Is Heart
I don’t think the current Knicks situation is all Woodson’s fault. He didn’t put this team together. “Garden Dolan” did it all with his small b-ball mind.
On paper the guys on the Knicks bench should be a lot better than they are. J.R. Smith gave an opinion. “It’s not a mental thing, it’s a heart thing,” Smith said after the Knicks gave up 73 first-half points in the loss to Golden State. “Guys get open shots, [they're] walking through the lane, running around, slapping high-fives, laughing, joking. When you’re supposed to be a team trying to make the playoffs, you ain’t gonna win. It ain’t gonna happen like that. You gotta play with effort, play with heart. I mean, I’m not condoning knocking somebody down and hurting nobody. But we gotta do something. We gotta stick up for ourselves. We’re just letting people do what they want to do.”
Part of the problem is that Dolan hasn’t given these guys any direction at all. You can say- they don’t need direction. They know the way to the bank. But even with all of their money- they’re twenty-year-olds and don’t have the maturity to lead themselves anywhere.
Jason Kidd supplied that leadership last year and the Knicks did really well. Who’s carrying that banner this year? No one, that’s who.
Ian Begley (ESPNY.com) quoted Jeff VanGundy, “The most damning point Van Gundy made was that the Knicks don’t have enough players who have the “hunger” to win. So Van Gundy, the last coach before Mike Woodson to lead the Knicks to a playoff-series win, suggested the Knicks keep Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jeremy Tyler, and blow up the rest of the roster, filling it with players who are “hungry” enough to win in the NBA. (We’d add Toure’ Murry to the list, but we understand Van Gundy’s point.)
“You’ve got to get some hungry guys … some durable, hungry guys to surround Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, who are the foundation for your team. If you just do that, [get] guys who are hungry, durable and can shoot a little bit, at least when you lose you can feel good about yourself,” Van Gundy said this can be done with a lot of fast talking so teams will pick-up the salaries of Stoudemire, Prignatoni, and Shumpert.
Ian O’Connor (ESPNNY.com) agreed and wrote, “The New York Knicks have so many problems up and down the organization, from Jim Dolan at the top to a D-League reject named Chris Smith at the bottom, that it’s easy to forget they will need a qualified coach to replace Mike Woodson within a few months. That coach will not count against the salary cap. His wage will not come packaged with a luxury-tax bill from hell. The Garden’s policy of muting coaches, of practically subjecting them to lobotomies, could cost its basketball team a shot at the best available candidates. But in the end, there are only so many of these glamour positions to go around. Someone will want the title of head coach of the New York Knicks.
Jeff Van Gundy coached eight 82-game seasons in New York and Houston, and claimed 50 or more victories in half of them. Van Gundy won eight playoff series with the Knicks, or seven more than the franchise has won in the 13 years since his departure.
Van Gundy is the most likely to smooth over Dolan’s rough edges, to sell him on the virtues of glasnost. He was the Garden’s last basketball coach allowed to speak freely from the beginning to the end of his term, the last one to win consistently and the last one ambitious enough to see a second-round playoff exit as a complete failure.
Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) wrote:
“I never did find out if the four-man bobsled comes with cup holders.”
“Does anybody know of a curling fantasy league someone could join?”
“Check out these names: Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachula, Miroslav Raduljica,and Giannis Antetkounmpo. Who do they play for? If you guessed the Latvian hockey team, give yourself a couple of points for effort. But actually, they’re members of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.”
Olympic Cold Sweat
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us that he, “Just woke up in a cold sweat from the ultimate Sochi nightmare.
As in tennis scream Queen Maria Sharapova decided to take up curling.”
To counteract the extra time that will be spent on replays, perhaps games can go quicker if those “Nomar Batting Glove Adjustments” can be stopped as well as those between-pitch delays (wasn’t there a rule that pitchers only had so much time between pitches?)
The Sports Curmudgeon told me that when, “My long-suffering wife and I arrived in the Northern Virginia area around 1970, dinner theaters were a big deal in the area. There were lots of them; they put on extensive productions; lots of people went to the shows. Today, dinner theaters around here are difficult to find; the more common dramatic entertainment is dinner at a restaurant near a theater followed by a production in a theater. I mention this because I learned yesterday about a new dinner theater in Kissimmee, FL. What does this have to do with sports (his word, not mine), you ask? Well, this is a professional wrestling dinner theater.” More Marinara
Bob wondered where those “Women hockey players go between Winter Games.”
“The U.S. speed skaters taught me something. From now on, whenever I have a bad day at the laptop, I’m going to blame it on the clothes I was wearing.”
“Conventional wisdom holds that the appearance of NHL stars at the Olympics promotes the league. But NHL executives insist otherwise and will take their time deciding whether to shut down the regular schedule for two weeks in 2018 or turn over the competition to college players and juniors. Doesn’t seem possible that Olympic hockey can go back to the way it was before 1998. I’m guessing that NBC and its money will see to it that it doesn’t happen.”
February 28, 2014
Ian Begley (ESPNNY.com) looked at what might be the next steps in the Anthony sweeps, “Anthony’s pay cut would have a greater impact in the summer of 2015. That summer, the Knicks are expected to be heavy players in free agency because the current deals for Bargnani, Stoudemire and Chandler come off the books.
If Anthony signs a max deal, his salary in the 2015-16 season will be $24,142,789, and the Knicks would have five players under contract at a total salary of $39,492,533. They’d also have a first-round pick.
This assumes that both J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton pick up their respective player options for 2015-16. It also assumes that the Knicks offer Iman Shumpert a qualifying offer, he accepts and the Knicks don’t pick up the team option on Pablo Prigioni’s contract.
If that’s the case, then Anthony’s pay cut would pay dividends in that summer. It would give the Knicks more flexibility to pursue max free agents such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo and should leave them with room to add other players on the market.
Anthony said that his “first priority” is to re-sign with the Knicks this summer, but he also made it clear he needs the Knicks to produce a clear plan that will lead to a title. He’s said several times that winning an NBA championship is his top priority.
So it’s on Mills and the rest of the Knicks front office to convince Anthony they can build a championship-caliber team around him.
“If that’s not the plan that they have, then we’ve got to talk about something else,” Anthony told reporters in New Orleans.”
Trade Deadline Dilema
Jonette Howard (ESPNNY.com) gave us her opinion of the Knicks’ inaction at the NBA trade deadline. “When you add up what this trade deadline has reminded us about the Knicks, it’s sobering. They didn’t have enough assets to trade for a player of significance even before Iman Shumpert — their trade bait version of Pau Gasol, a player often dangled but never shipped out — got hurt Wednesday night. They don’t have the draft picks to land a franchise player. They don’t have the salary-cap room to sign a big free agent right now. And there are no guarantees — just hope — Anthony will stay.
But hey, there’s always Summer 2015.
And the hubristic notion that everyone is dying to play in New York.
This sales job isn’t just a familiar storyline for the Knicks.
It’s gotten beyond old.
Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com wrote from Florida (how unfair is that?) about the recovery of Manny Banuelos from Tommy John surgery. “No matter what Banuelos does this spring, the Yankees should not take him on the Opening Day roster. They have thought about it a little.
“Banuelos has got that big arm,” a front office source told ESPNNewYork.com as part of our three-part series. “If it’s still there and the lightning still strikes then you’re going to see people say, ‘Bring him with us [on Opening Day].’”
The Yankees always have a win now attitude. If Banuelos is a better option than Cesar Cabral as a second lefty out of the pen after Matt Thornton, they may really talk about it. But they should not do it.
Banuelos has not pitched in games in nearly two years. He threw 24 innings in 2012, so he needs to put more mileage on his arm to make sure he is ready. He also needs to fine-tune his repertoire so he can be a more complete product when he gets to the majors. He has never dominated in the upper levels of the minors.
Even if Banuelos dominates at Triple-A, the Yankees should wait until around June and let him come up as a starter if he is ready to do that. Banuelos is a young pitcher the Yankees should nurture a little to see if they can maximize his potential.
The idea of rushing him early as a second lefty would only improve the Yankees slightly and could slow Banuelos’ development significantly. He has already lost enough time.
Banuelos sounds like a guy that is determined to make an impact. He is throwing at 93/94 right now, but hopes to let it rip soon to see if he can hit 96/97 again.
The Sports Curmudgeon heard that Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said his Cubs were going to make the playoffs THIS YEAR and said, “I wonder how many more statements like that one before the MLBPA begins to demand random drug testing for club owners.”
So, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that he could see the Mets winning 90 games this season. Yeah- right.
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) told me that I’d be a natural to compete in the Olympic style “Freestyle Chillin’ Out” event.
Early NFL Draft Talk
Ron Cook (Pgh. Post-Gazette) saw all of the Johnny Manziel ink and commented: “I look at Manziel and see another over publicized bust. Manziel already is Tebow’s equal in one sense. I’m completely and totally sick of him. Sick of his many immaturity issues, which appear to be following him to the NFL from Texas A&M. Sick of his endless self-promotion. Sick of him trying to talk his way into being the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Texans in the May 8 draft.”
The Sports Curmudgeon talked about the coaching woes experienced by the Detroit Lions. “There have been 15 coaches for the Lions since 1970 counting the current incumbent Jim Caldwell.
After each of the previous 14 coaches left the Lions (voluntarily or at the behest of management) not a single one of them ever was the head coach of an NFL team again. Not even for a single game.
In fact, the last head coach of the Lions who did get another head-coaching job in the NFL was Buddy Parker. He was the coach in Detroit from 1951 to 1956.”
Scott Ostler (San Francisco Chronicle) said, “I always like to close with a joke: Russian judges.”
February 21, 2014
And So It Continues
Ron Borges (Boston Globe) threw down the gauntlet: “All Red Sox fans owe Masahiro Tanaka a debt of gratitude. He just gave us another reason to hate the Yankees.
All Red Sox fans owe Masahiro Tanaka a debt of gratitude. He just gave us another reason to hate the Yankees. Asked about Tanaka’s arrival, Dice-K pointed out a significant difference between them and it was not that Tanaka was a remarkable 24-0 record — the most wins by a Japan League pitcher since 1979 — in his final season in Japan. It was that Dice-K flew to Boston on a plane chartered by the Red Sox. “I didn’t pay,” he told a group of Mets beat writers yesterday. But thank goodness for Tanaka, because it takes the edge off the announcement yesterday that Derek Jeter will retire after this season. What will we do with all those obscenity-laden T-shirts we’ve been wearing to Yankee games for the past 20 years when he leaves? To be frank, it’s actually hard to muster up much bile for Jeter. He is a wonderful player, a well-spoken guy who never says the wrong thing (including “I won’t move to third base for A-Rod”) and a tremendous competitor. Even when we holler at the guy, we can’t really hate him. Masahiro Tanaka, on the other hand, just made it easy.”
Yankees View Tanaka
Andrew Marchand (ESPNNY.com) gave us a quick view of Masahiro Tanaka. “Two days before the official start of the team’s spring training workouts, Tanaka breezed through a 25-pitch bullpen session to catcher Francisco Cervelli on Thursday at New York’s minor league complex.
“I could see his face. Looks like he wants to have fun,” Cervelli said.
Tanaka threw two- and four-seam fastballs, splitters and sliders. Cervelli estimated Tanaka threw at about 60 percent strength, and he said pitcher Ivan Nova and coaches were around for the session.
“The fastball travels so well. I think his mechanics are so smooth,” Cervelli said. “Japanese pitchers, they all got five, six pitches. So it’s fun just to be behind the plate and catch it.”
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year in 27 starts and one relief appearance, leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title. Starting pitchers appear just once a week in Japan, so Tanaka will have to adjust to the major league schedule of starting every fifth day.
“You have to retrain the arm a little bit,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “I’m trying right now to moderate his schedule according to what he’s done in the past because he’s stayed healthy pretty much throughout his career.”
As Cervelli correctly pointed out, you can’t tell anything from a bullpen. Still, he is excited to see what’s ahead.
“When you see those kinds of numbers, that is ridiculous,” Cervelli said. “24-0, that is ridiculous. A 1-point something [ERA]? We know this is the big leagues. They all come and show what kind of pitcher they are. Every time we face [Yu] Darvish, it is hard to hit that guy. I think hitters say the same thing about [Hiroki] Kuroda. It is going to be fun. I hope he wins more than 20.”
The thing is, no one is going to know about Tanaka until about June. Spring training will let everyone examine what type of stuff he has, but not how it will play in the season.
By June, when he has 10 or more starts under his belt, we will have a better idea of what type of pitcher Tanaka might be. But we know one thing for sure already — he can draw a crowd.
What Was Expected
The “Suits” managing our speed skating team thought the team would be able to have longer practices by having those practices in the Italian Alps. Good thinking! Except, the games were held in Sochie- at sea level on the Black Sea. How did that work out? Not so hot! The post-race press conferences heard the racers say that their legs felt heavy and they weren’t able to muster the energy necessary for successful final kicks. This was the real cause of the poor showing- not faulty racing suits with back panels.
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) quoted Alex Kaselberg, on Russian figure skater, Evgeni Plushenko withdrawing with a back injury, “As he was coming off the ice, he tripped and fell on the carpet and, out of habit, the Russian judge gave him a perfect score.”
Oshie In Sochie
One thing that T.J. Oshie’s OT marksmanship proves over, and over, and over, and over again is that if a shooter takes his time and aims he can pick his spot and score a goal.
Ian Begley (ESPNNY.com) quoted Clyde Frazier on Melo’s return, “Melo’s a good businessman and when you put all of this together, no one can pay him as much as the Knicks. I don’t think it’s going to happen; I think he’s staying in New York. It makes financial sense for Anthony to remain in New York. With the Knicks, Anthony can sign a max contract of five years and $129 million. If he signs with another team, Anthony would ink a max contract of four years and $96 million.
Anthony said on Friday that he’d consider taking a pay cut to re-sign with the Knicks if it put the team in a better position to sign other free-agents.
He called re-signing with the Knicks is his “top priority.” But he also made it clear that he’d like to see the Knicks’ plan to build a championship contender around him before signing on the dotted line.
“At the end of the season, [that] is the time that everything has to be laid out on the table, from both parties,” he said, according to published reports. “If it’s something that we can grow with, we can build on, we can compete at the highest level, then we’re rolling.”
Send In The Worm
I’m sure that you’ve all heard about the lack of new clowns emerging. Well, Greg Cote (Miami Herald) said, “It was not for a lack of trying by Dennis Rodman.”
February 14, 2014
Random Winter Games Evidence
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) told us that, “The Winter Olympics are not as popular as the summer games, and I think it’s because too many winter sports have bizarre names. Here are a few I’m looking at and what they mean to me.
Curling (which involves a broom): Activity taking place in a women’s hair salon.
Slopestyle: Plastic surgeon jargon for a nose job technique.
Certain other events are not Winter Olympics sports yet but should be. These include synchronized ice fishing, yodeling, avalanche surfing, and rhythmic shivering.”
The Motto for the Olympics has been “Faster, Longer, Higher.” Does this sound like Team Ice Dancing belongs?
Advice To Woody
Ian Begley (ESPNNY.com) wrote about Jeff Van Gundy’s advice to Mike Woodson, “Van Gundy was asked on ESPN Radio’s “The Ian O’Connor Show” if he had any advice for Woodson.
His message was simple: ignore the outside noise.
“Just do your job and don’t feel the need to update the media on your feelings because it doesn’t matter,” Van Gundy said. “Just do your job. You know how to coach and you’ve done it very well there. I wouldn’t apologize to anyone if I was him because I think he’s handled himself very, very well in a difficult situation.”
The Knicks are 20-31 and in tenth place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Charlotte for the eighth seed. They’ve lost four of five, leading to another round of widespread speculation that Woodson’s job is in jeopardy.
Van Gundy called the constant speculation over Woodson’s job “very, very unfair.”
If Woodson is let go, the Knicks would likely consider a big-name coach such as Van Gundy or John Calipari, among others, to bring in over the summer.
Van Gundy has said that he has no interest in taking over a team in the middle of the season.
I think that Mike Woodson has done an outstanding job coaching the Knicks, give the tools (players) with which he’s had to work. Last season his coaching brought the team to heights that had been only hopes. This MUST be remembered and because there isn’t anyone out there who can do better than Woodson would do.
Possible New Knicks
The Klucks are still trying to trade Shumpert. He might be the only attractive player to a trade partner. Kenneth Faried’s name is coming up a lot. Faried is a 6-8, 225 power forward who shoots a little over 50% from the foul line (I don’t know where he’d fit in the rotation. Jordan Hamilton (6-7, 220 sm. Forward) might come with him in a salary equalization deal. I don’t think either one of these guys are an equal of Shumpert. But I’ve got to remember that it’s the Knicks making this deal and they haven’t had many successes in the market.
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) asked-
“Peyton Bender is:
a) A three-star QB who signed with Washington State
b)The no.1 reason that Broncos fans were unable to get to work on super-Monday.”
Last Look Back
Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) commented, “We get it now: Seattle had the better team; the younger, quicker, more aggressive athletes. Still, I don’t think enough has been said about what a poor job John Fox and his staff did getting Denver ready for the Super Bowl. Though it’s always simpler just to blame the quarterback.” Dog Show
Norman Chad compared the Westminster Dog Show to Woodstock; but without Wavy Gravey. The headline act was Hound, Setter, Beagle, and Hound (Arlo Corgi sang Alice’s Dog Treats). “The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a four-legged Woodstock; better yet, rather than a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s a once-a-year ritual. Dogs come from all over the world for the chance at canine fame and getting their mug on CNBC and USA Network. Once again, intrepid Siberian husky Chuchi’s Yuki kept an exclusive journal for Couch Slouch on his week in New York.” He even picked up a painting of dog owners playing poker.
Jack Finarelli (The Sports Curmudgeon) commented about the possibility of an apology by Alex Rodriguez. “There will be a mea culpa eventually once the image handlers have polished the text and have determined that the time is right to present “contrite A-Rod”. The problem they will face at that point is that “contrite A-Rod” makes “belligerent A-Rod” from the last six months look like an even bigger liar.”
The Just Go Away Club
While the Sports Curmudgeon was creating his A-Rant, it struck him that A-Rod and a few other folks need to be inducted into an elite fraternity about now. No, not the HOF but the Just Go Away Club. I would like to present my 6 charter members in this club. Readers may feel free to add others to this pantheon. But first, two ground rules: 1. I do not wish any harm to befall any of these folks. I just want them to go away and never bother me again. 2. Politicians and political pundits/commentators are not eligible for the club because there are far too many candidates of that ilk to list – let alone to consider for membership.” The SC list: Jon Gruden, Terrell Owens, Danica Patrick, Regis Philbin, Dennis Rodman, and of course the person who was responsible for the need of this list Alex Rodriguez.
From The Are You Kidding File
Rich Cimini (ESPNNY.com) told us that, “Ed Reed, who played last season for the Houston Texans and New York Jets, told police he withdrew $50,000 from one bank and drove to another bank, presumably to make another transaction.
The future Hall of Famer left the money on the passenger seat of his gray 2006 Audi, registered in Florida. When he returned to the car, the passenger window was smashed and the money was gone, according to the police report.
The incident occurred around 3 p.m. The police report said the cash was in a “bag,” although it was described as an “envelope” in another report, a police spokesperson said.
Police believe Reed was followed from one bank to the next. The report didn’t state why he was carrying such a large amount of cash. The investigation is ongoing.