Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
The king of the Malapropism, Yogi Berra, before he played baseball, served on a boat that invaded Normandy on D-Day. Barely 18 years old, he volunteered for the Navy. In 1944, he was part of the invasion of Omaha Beach and was on a boat about 150 yards off the coast. The ships' job was to clear the way for the army transports, which meant it went in before a lot of the other ships in the invasion. Yogi and his boat were out in the water, under fire for twelve days.
"I never brought it up. I never said that I was in the service, unless someone asked me," said Berra. "There are other things to think about."
Rocky Bleier was best known for playing fullback for the Pittsburgh Steeler teams during the 70s. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968, Bleier went to Vietnam to serve his country. While in country, Bleier was ambushed and was hit with grenade shrapnel in his right leg and rifle fire. He was told by doctors he would never play football again. While recuperating, he received a postcard from Steelers owner Art Rooney which read "Rock - the team's not doing well. We need you. Art Rooney."
One year after being wounded, Bleier reported to Steelers training camp. He spent two full years trying to regain a spot on the active roster, and was even waived on two occasions. Eventually, an off-season training regimen brought Bleier back to 212 pounds in the summer of 1974. From that point on, he would be in the Steelers' starting lineup. 1974 was also the first year the Steelers won a Super Bowl.
While many consider Ted Williams the greatest hitter who ever lived, most don't know he stats were impeded by 5 years of service he gave his country in WWII and in Korea. After volunteering for a flight training assignment, he served as a flight instructor for the Marines during WWII. In 1952, Williams, who was on inactive reserve duty for the Marines, and was 33, married and with a child, who called up for active duty. He was sent to Korea and flew 37 combat missions. John Glenn, who was in the same squadron as Ted Williams, had this to say about Williams during one mission: "Once, he was on fire and had to belly land the plane back in," Glenn said. "He slid it in on the belly. It came up the runway about 1,500 feet before he was able to jump out and run off the wingtip. Another time he was hit in the wingtip tank when I was flying with him. So he was a very active combat pilot, and he was an excellent pilot and I give him a lot of credit."
"Everybody tries to make a hero out of me over the Korean thing," Williams once said. "I was no hero. There were maybe 75 pilots in our two squadrons and 99 percent of them did a better job than I did. But I liked flying. It was the second-best thing that ever happened to me. If I hadn't had baseball to come back to, I might have gone on as a Marine pilot."
On December 8th, 1941, Bob Feller who was an all-start pitcher and who had won the triple crown of pitchers in 1940, joined the Navy. he was the first major leaguer to volunteer for combat duty after Pearl Harbor. He was 23.
He was gun crew chief on the U.S.S. Alabama for the duration of the war, which fought at Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and in the Marshall Islands. For his service, he earned five campaign ribbons and eight battle stars.
"I'm very proud of my war record, just like my baseball record. I would never have been able to face anybody and talk about my baseball record if I hadn't spent time in the service."
There's been a lot said about Pat Tillman. Some people thought he was a "G.I. Joe guy, who got what was coming to him." Others felt he was a hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Here are the facts. He was a seventh round draft pick who played his way into the Arizona Cardinal starting rotation. He earned $512,000 as a safety for the Arizona Cardinals in 2001. Then, motivated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he turned down a three-year, $3.6 million offer from the Cardinals to enlist in the Army. He was killed in action by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
Despite the controversial way and subsequent investigations into Tillman's death, Pat's jersey is the top selling Cardinal jersey in their franchise and is consistently on the top jerseys sold in the NFL.
Sometime today, between the ballgame and the B-B-Q and the third beer, remember those who sacrificed their time, money, loved ones and lives for their country.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
What is it about the Clippers? Despite seemingly constantly picking high in the NBA Draft, they possess the third worst franchise win percentage—only ahead of the Grizzlies and the Bobcats, both newer franchises—at an appalling .362. They are the oldest NBA team (1971) to never appear in an NBA Finals. In their 39 years of existence, they've had a .500 or better record just 7 times. And only one winning season since the 91-92 season.
It can't be the lack of talent—they have had some good players in their history. In fact, their current roster, despite their 19-62 isn't all that terrible. Al Thorton, Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman when he's healthy...maybe not world champions, but 19 wins?
No, it's the guys "managing" the team. Even since the beginning of the franchise, the Clippers have made stupid trades, made ridiculous picks and overall, ran the teams into the ground. And this history of mismangement and incompetence isnt just modern dday; it goes back to the very beginning of the franchise. In 1976, they traded former Rookie of the Year and MVP, Bob McAdoo for the immortal John Gianelli and cash. A few years later, the Clippers traded World B. Free for Phil Smith, who immediately underperformed. Around that time, the Clippers also signed former MVP Bill Walton, but only after his career had begun to be derailed by constant foot injuries. From 1979 to 1985, Walton played in 169 games for the Clippers—about two full seasons—many of them, off the bench. He was a shell of his former self.
The list of ridiculousness goes on. Drafting Olawokandi over Dirk Nowitzski, Paul Pierce or Vince Carter. Drafting Chris Wilcox over Amare Stoudamire. Trading Antonio McDyess for Rodney Rogers. Drafting Reggie Williams over Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller or Kevin Johnson.
And this mismanagement runs down to the players—it permeates their play. They know the history of folly. They know management would never do what it takes to help them go deep into the playoffs—never make a trade for a big name player, never sign a free agent all-star. Or that if they do make a trade, that management didn't do their diligence, and he is injured, or wont fit in well. They know this and it shows in their play. It shows. It shows in the 19-62 record of players who are better than that.
Which brings us to the present. Blake Griffin will most likely be a Clipper. Or will he? The Clippers already have a number of post players, Camby, Thornton, Randolph, Kaman, Tim Thomas and a few others. Would anyone put it past the Clippers to pick someone else? Or trade the pick? Or something else equally fruitless that we haven't imagined?
The Clippers have been mismanaged for too long. Lets hope that with this pick, it begins a start in the right direction—respectability.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Really? You want the President to invite all 32 teams every year, and not just the Champions? Right...and hey, Harrison. You should check your helmet. I don't think its protecting your brain all that well.
You gotta give credit to Ken Macha and the Brewers. They play in arguably the toughest division in baseball, lose CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets and still have the second best record in the NL. And with one quarter of the season done, they lead the free spending Cubs and may have found a new young ace in Yovani Gallardo.
Another team that deserves credit are the Texas Rangers. From last year's league-high 5.37 team ERA to this year's 3.13 team ERA—MLB Best—the team seems to have everything rolling. Nolan Ryan called out his pitchers in Spring Training, saying that have to pitch through pain and last longer in games, something his pitching coach Mike Maddux echoed. Seems to have worked. Always knew the Rangers could hit. If they can pitch this well for an entire season, they will be a force to contend with.
Can't wait for the Lakers—Nuggets series. I have a feeling that that series could be the most fun one in all the NBA playoffs.
You always knew David Wells would give his opinion—even if no one asked for it. So yesterday, he got on a soapbox about steroid use—and with some not so kind words for Roger Clemens thrown in there for good measure—and said this:
They should say if everyone is doing it, let them do it. But if they do it, they’re not entitled to go to the Hall of Fame if they got Hall of Fame numbers.
“I’d just ban them right out of the get-go. I think that would be great. That would stop them in a heartbeat, especially with the money that they’re giving out today.”
Wow. A "One Strike and You're Out" policy and no Hall of Fame. Hate to admit this; I always though Boomer Wells was a bit of a knucklehead, but he's got some good points there. And, of course, you know that guys was never on any steroids.
According to PFW, it seems former Kansas City 2008 first round pick, Glenn Dorsey—much ballyhooed as a "Can't Miss" prospect, and who then had a non-descript first year, may not be in the starting lineup come September. Dorsey, who is not a 3-4 NT, may not even be one of the starting ends, when the Chiefs spring into their new 3-4 defense. PFW reports:
GM Scott Pioli used his first two draft picks on versatile defensive linemen: LSU’s Tyson Jackson and Purdue’s Alex Magee. Although neither played in a 3-4 in college, each has the skills necessary to line up at end in the “30” front. And, from what we hear, this is the duo the Chiefs would like to anchor their D-line for the foreseeable future.
Very interesting. But it does beg one question. Why didn't the Chiefs trade Dorsey (to the Falcons along with Tony Gonzalez, for instance) if they felt they didn't have a use for him?
Call me crazy, what with Grienke out there pitching like a madman, or Johan pitching great, but for my money, if I had to select one pitcher for one game, right now, I'd take Roy Halladay and I wouldn't even have to think twice.
And finally, in the "Dummy" news of the week, we go to Urban Meyer. Apparently, Meyer didn't like the fact that former Gator QB, Shane Matthews—who played over a decade before Meyer ever stepped foot in Florida—was criticizing Meyer's game strategy during Florida's upset loss to Mississippi.
"If you want to be critical of a player on our team or a coach on our team you can buy a ticket for seat 37F, you're not welcome back in the football office," Meyer said, according to the report. "You're either a Gator or you're not a Gator."
Oh really, Urban. That has gotta be the dumbest thing I've ever heard. So should Cris Collinsworth never criticize the Bengals even if he's covering a game there? Or should Doug Flutie never criticize Boston College? Or what about Terry Bradshaw and the Steelers? Give me a break. Shane Matthews is a radio commentator. His job is to give his opinion about college football. He's not paid to pledge allegiance to his former college program. And what's more, Urban, you should know that. You're a great coach. Don't be so thin-skinned.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Well, all that was taken with 3 words Herzlich uttered yesterday. "I have cancer."
In what world—where a guy like Herzlich, who's been nothing but a warrior on the field, and a good guy and teammate off the field, is diagnosed with cancer at 21—is this fair?
Not that cancer for anyone at any age is fair. That said, when an athlete with the kind of potential Herzlich flashed, and who played the game with the kind of joy and intensity you want to see in a player, its a special kind of sadness when he struck down. You feel robbed of what he could have accomplished on the field. What he could have done. The only word that comes to mind, is unfair.
Football aside—it should be the least of mark Herzlich's concerns right now—AAPTBNL wishes Mark a speedy recovery and complete and clean bill of health soon. Get well, Mark. And we hope to see you intimidating running backs and tight ends very, very soon.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Foxsports.com Alex Marvez had an article on how Michael Vick should construct his comeback to the NFL. Might I had to his list; learn how to be much more accurate. As PFToday wrote today: In the first two years of his career, Roddy White had less than 1000 total receiving yards. Since then he has a total of over 2600 yards. Just saying, Vick never made players around his better—kinda what a QB is supossed to do. Vick had time to develop, and a lot of apologists. Yet, my opinion stays the same since I saw him in Viginia Tech; he is a great athlete with a powerful arm. He is not a NFL quarterback.
Watched some of the Cavs whupping of the Hawks Saturday night, and...let me just say it...the insanity of Lebron James' shots—well, it reminded me of someone. And yes, I know there have been a million "next Michael Jordans" out there since His Airness retired, but the absolute ridiculousness of James' shots and the"Can't Miss" nature of his game. Well it really reminded me of a lot of Michael Jordan's playoff games and the way he'd just take over and you knew he wasn't going to miss.
Rex Grossman's agent says Rex is healthy and ready to compete to be a starting QB somewhere. He just wants a chance. Sorry, guy. But iI can't see many teams giving a guy who has a 54.2 completion rating and a barely 70.% QB rating much of a chance to start anywhere.
The Wall Street Journal (really?) posits this sports question: Should the Red Sox trade Big Papi? My question is....for what? He's has the textbook declining attributes and failing body common to the post-steroid user (see Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds). He's batting .224 and his slugging percentage is almost 300 hundred points lower than it was in his prime. And he's making 13 million this year. And he's signed through next year. Oh, and he can't play the field. So, what exactly, are the Red Sox going to get for him?
Saw this: One Vikings player was asked about the Brett Farve flirtation. His response: “Glad it’s over. We’re OK without him.”
Last week, SI.com writer Jon Heyman ranked baseball managers. In it, he had Joe Maddon 9th and Lou Pinella 10th. How is this possible? Pinella's Cubs have over twice times the roster salary that Maddon's Rays do. The Cubs get to sign high-priced players from Japan, big ticket free agents and to resign its own talented kids to keep them. The Rays have to keep their budget at 60 million or under. And last I checked the Cubs choked in the playoffs last year whileMaddon brought a bunch of kids to the World Series. Should be way higher than 9th or at least further away from Pinella's 10th.
And finally, if you haven't seen it, go find it. It's Torii Hunter's 9th inning game-saving robbery of a Miguel Olivio potential HW. Hunter calls it the 2nd best catch he's ever made. If this is the 2nd best, then I can't even imagine the first.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
However, another thing has been happening—also in Rodriguez's favor. Journalists are starting to look, really look, at Selena Roberts' career, her motives and her public record.
Jason Whitlock, not normally the most insightful journalist, wrote an interesting piece on FoxSports.com regarding this subject. In it, Whitlock questions Robert's credibility—with interesting results. "Her sourcing for the most damaging allegations, by her own admission, is either anonymous or non-existent." He then goes on to question her motives for investigating Alex Rodriquez by bringing up Roberts coverage of the infamous Duke lacrosse rape case and her subsequent response to the teams' exoneration. "Roberts' reaction to the exoneration of the Duke lacrosse players calls into question her credibility. By refusing to acknowledge her mistakes in the Duke case, she creates the impression that her agenda trumps the truth."
Whitlock really digs in to Roberts. In summation, Whitlock basically says that Roberts is—with the Duke lacrosse case and the A-Rod book—is out to prove her larger social point: that sports is corrosive to young men and creates a false sense of entitlement. And she is willing to fudge facts and sacrifice people's lives to prove her point.
Strong words. And impossible to prove. That said, it interesting to note that Roberts in an recent interview regarding her Rodriguez book claims she “buttoned up every single hole to make sure to be absolutely right . . . It’s like being in court—once you say something, you can’t just strike it.” Those Roberts words are interesting to note because, Danny Knobler of CBSsports.com had this to say:
It took me less than an hour to find a mistake in A-Rod, The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez , the Selena Roberts book that debuted this week.
And I wasn't even trying.
I got to page 79, read that A-Rod was "hitting a dismal .105 . . . with April nearing its chilly end," and that he then met with a guy named Jim Fannin "in a downtown Milwaukee hotel room." I wasn't covering A-Rod in 1996, but I was covering baseball. And it seemed stunning that he could have been hitting .105 near the end of April. It took me all of three minutes on baseball-reference.com to find out that he wasn't. No, when A-Rod was hitting .105, it was April 7, six games into the season. And while the Mariners had just finished a series against Milwaukee, it was at the Kingdome, not at County Stadium. And while the Mariners then left on a road trip, they went to Detroit, not Milwaukee. The Mariners' lone trip to Milwaukee that season was in late July, not late April.
Granted, this is small potatoes credibility-wise—it has nothing to do with whether Rodriquez took steroids or not—but in a small sense it has to do with whether artifice and "scene-painting" had anything to do with Roberts story. If she claimed she was "buttoning up every hole," then why such sloppy errors which such easy-to-check facts?
More damning is the Durham-in-Wonderland blog. On the site, they go through Selena Roberts' New York Times articles on the Duke lacrosse rape case. The point-by-point corrections of her "facts" and assertions are damning to say the least. Here is a small sample of the blog quoting Roberts' articles and their corrections:
Jason Whitlock picks up from there. In his May 7th, FoxSports.com article he quotes a recent Roberts interview regarding her Duke Lacrosse coverage.According to reported court documents, she was raped, robbed, strangled and was the victim of a hate crime.
Roberts was in a world of her own in describing a search warrant as a “reported court document.” (The Times was forced to run a correction several days later.) No item in the case file—“reported court document” or otherwise—ever contended that Crystal Mangum was the “victim of a hate crime.” The Times never ran a correction, and Roberts has never acknowledged her error.[Mangum] was also reportedly treated at a hospital for vaginal and anal injuries consistent with sexual assault and rape.
Roberts’ description of the medical reports was false. The Times never ran a correction, and Roberts has never acknowledged her error.Players have been forced to give up their DNA, but to the dismay of investigators, none have come forward to reveal an eyewitness account.
This statement was outright false (the three captains gave detailed “eyewitness accounts,” including DNA samples, which they gave voluntarily). The Times never ran a correction, and Roberts has never acknowledged her error.For days, Durham residents and Duke students have rallied on behalf of sexual-assault victims, banging pots and pans, hoping to stir more action out of Duke’s president, Richard H. Brodhead. The indignation has been heartening . . .
That Roberts, like the Group of 88, considered it “heartening” to see protesters blanket the campus with “wanted” posters or carry enormous “castrate” signs speaks volumes as to her values. Roberts has never retracted or amended her praise for the potbangers.
"I have always separated what the crime was ... and what the culture was. It didn't have to rise to the level of a crime to rise to the level of a column. And I wrote about the culture at Duke, and there's no doubt about that. I stand by that today...These women had pornographic pictures taken of them and distributed on the Internet. These women had racial slurs yelled at them. That is indisputable. There were broomsticks waved at them. That is indisputable. The issues that happened that night, separate from the crime, were in my opinion — and people can disagree with this — were worth writing about."Whitlock then writes: "Here's what's also indisputable: At no time in her original Duke lacrosse-bashing column did she mention anything about pornographic pictures, racial slurs or broomsticks waved at strippers. She wrote about rape, robbery, strangulation and a hate crime. You can read the column for yourself here."
What does this all mean? Frankly, we don't know. It could be that Alex Rodriguez is truly guilty of every single thing Roberts asserts. Or, it could be that Roberts became a little too zealous to show the underbelly of the sports world, to further her own cause. Or it could be something in the middle. And its a shame. If Rodriguez is in fact, truly guilty of the crimes Roberts asserts, then he deserves to be punished. But in Roberts sloppy journalism, it may just be that any hope of finding the truth will lay buried.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
You know what would be interesting: To see how well the pitchers perform in the next few weeks with Jose Molina behind the plate instead of Posada. For instance, in 2 games where CC Sabathia pitched to Molina, batters batted a .250 BA and had a .288 OBP. When Sabathia pitched to Posada: opposing batters had a .269 BA and a .373 OBP. For A.J. Burnett, when Posada was catching, batters hit .348 off him, and had a .672 slugging percentage. When Molina was catching Burnett, batters had a .194 batting average against him, and a .343 slugging percentage. And so on. Point is, Molina makes this expensive new Yankee staff better. And if the next few weeks show the Yankee pitchers on a role, it might be uncomfortable when Jorge comes back to play.
Gotta give it to Serena Williams for her chutzpah. Here's what she said yesterday about being ranked no. 2 in the world: "We all know who the real No. 1 is. Quite frankly, I'm the best in the world." All well and good, Serena, but as Bill Parcells said: "You are what your record says you are." And right now, you're number 2. You want to be number 1. Go and win. Unfortunately, here's what the uber-talented Williams had else to say.
"I always beat myself."And it is true. Williams always makes dumb mistakes, or gets injured or some such. She is the most talented in the world, no doubt, she only seems to put it together in spurts—heck in 2002 and 2003, you looked as if you would dominate for years. Serena, go and make this year, your year. Put it together and make a real run.
Mariano Rivera's ERA in 76 career postseason games: 0.77 ERA. Just wanted to remind everyone
Woo-wee, let's hear it for congress. Comparing the BCS system to Communism! Now, heck I hate the BCS system just as much as any real college football fan, but seriously, doesn't Congress have better things to do? That said, I do feel a twinge of excitement that there might be a sliver of an outside chance of a playoff system actually getting installed. And you have to give it to the Mountain West Conference, which is getting Utah Senator Orrin Hatch involved and prompting Hatch to:
"...put the BCS on the agenda for the Judiciary's antitrust subcommittee this year, and Utah's attorney general, Mark Shurtleff, is investigating whether the BCS violates federal antitrust laws...."Outstanding. Now we know that even when the MWC or any of the small conference talk about the "fairness of competition", the really are talking about the fair distribution of revenue from end of season games; the big conferences are getting huge revenues and the smaller ones are getting left out. however, in an odd twist of fate, all of this greed and battle over money might work out in the end for fans. Congress, might force an equal chance at revenue for all conferences—which means a playoff system—and which means finally fans will get what they want.
This NBA draft lottery simulator might be silly, but may it sure is fun at work—better than doing actual work.
Last week, I wrote about sports "journalists" trying to be funny or outrageous and just being uninformative and irritating. Well, here's some fool ranking on the millions and millions of people who watch the draft. Feel free to write Foxsports.com and tell them that you want him off their web site.
There are some whispers that Jason Taylor might head to Tampa Bay and team up with Gaines Adams as the ends in the Bucs front 4 rush. That would be intimidating. Taylor still has some chops left at rushing the QB, and he might be just what Adams needs to get over the hump and become the breakout player he could be.
And finally, here's a little something I found: Penn State Aaron Maybin—collegian and student/athlete—majored in "Integrative Arts" while a student at Penn State. Electives in "Integrative Arts" include a course on Elvis Presley ("eight chronologically arranged units of study that trace Elvis Presley's life") and a pop arts course with this incredibly rigorous requirement: "Every two weeks, students will be required to see, read, or hear an assigned contemporary work of popular mass media art."
Between the ridiculous answers the BCS committee have for preventing a playoff system ("a playoff system would stain college football with a brush of professionalism") and the complete lack of credibility regarding the student part of student-athlete (for Pete's sake, just pay these kids a part of the revenue), I feel like I gotta delouse every time I watch a college football game.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The new Yankee Stadium overwhelms from the minute you walk in. Part Yankee museum, part shopping mall, the Stadium tries hard at every level to provide the Yankee fan with every conceivable comfort and entertainment possible. The walkways are huge, the bathrooms are seemingly every 30 feet. And seriously, any food you can think of, they have it in the ballpark. My wife liked the fact that calories were printed out next to every food and drink.
The stadium itself is also well thought-out and built for convenience. The stairs are wider than the older stadium, and beer and food stands were right at the top of the stairs. And the stadium is open to the walkways, so you can still see and hear the game while you're buying your food or heading back from the bathroom. In the seats, the sightlines were very good, and the centerfield video screen—well let's just say that pictures don't do it justice. It is absolutely enormous.
Overall, the Stadium definitely gets the upgrade it needed. The Yankees designed the new palace to impress and to provide, and on those fronts it succeeds. The only complaint might be that the new palace is "too much." That the Great Hall is too palatial, the walkway has too many stores—like a mall—and that there are too many Yankee images and memorabilia. Overall, just too much.
And while that may be the case; there certainly is a great deal of...everything...around the Stadium; all that everything is on point. It remains all about the Yankees. There isn't a swimming pool in the outfield or a Ferris Wheel right outside, and the Stadium hasn't been turned into a amusement park. And yes, while the Great Hall is a huge Louvre-style museum, it's a museum for the Yankees. The gigantic video screen, the plentiful food and bathrooms, the larger walkways—they are for the benefit of the fans, so they can watch the game in great comfort. None of these things are bad or gratuitous. Overwhelming, maybe, but focused on baseball, the fan and the Yankees.
The new Yankee Stadium, trumps the old one in almost every way as to comfort and luxury; however, the real question remains, will the new Stadium ever provide the mystique & aura the old one did? Lurking just across the street, one gets the feeling, that even after they tear it down, it still will cast a long, long shadow.