Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's (still) a F'ng Disgrace

The European club championship is this afternoon, live from Rome on Espn 2, betwixt Manchester United and Barcelona. How Barcelona got here is a bit of a joke. In the first leg of the Camp Nou, Barca could not penetrate Chelsea's stout defence consisting of 10 Blues in the box. Afterwards, Barca showed that burgundy is truly their team color as they whined incessantly about Chelsea's "negative football."
In the second leg, at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea far outplayed Barca, leading 1-0 through the 91st minute thanks to a wonder-volley from their best all-around player, Michael Essien. They should have had several more goals through penalties, as these pictures imply.

After a non-handball-call in the 94 minute, the proceedings devolved into chaos ending with Didier Dogba, the recipient of two non-calls, blocking the ref's passage and yelling "It's a fucking disgrace" into the camera. (peep the excellent remix).
How can the world's second-fastest team sport continue to be refereed by only one man and a handful of final-word-less assistants? Would a better system be one where the game is controlled by a referee sitting in a luxury box above the field of play monitoring the flow via tv monitors? In this scenario the referee on the pitch would have no authority, receiving instructions from above via radio. This would drastically cut down on the sad sight of grown men grovelling with the referee. Like a red-light camera, the ominous eye-in-the-sky could prove to be more effective.

The game also exposed the pointlessness of the "away goal" rule, whereby a goal scored by the tourists counts double if the score is level after two games. Over the last 10 years there have been 56 home goals and 36 away goals scored in the semi-finals. Anyone who watches these games sees away teams usually playing most timidly, happy to get one away goal at most. Goals, especially in major tournaments, are fluky and hard-to-come-by; it seems arbitrary to make some goals worth more. Almost like counting goals from more than 30-yards away as three.
Ideally these games would be played single-elimination-style, as the final is, but then again we would just see more nil-nil draws ending in penalties.

Which brings us back to today's between the best of England and the best of Spain. As with our pal Frownie, we will continue to pick these games according to our philosophy that the game needs fixing, and until necessary changes are made we will continue to get the same undesirable results.

So, 0-0 and on to the penalty lottery from the Eternal City it shall be.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Soak It In

Oh, hello there. Sit down, won't you? Come now, how can you resist? The pursed lips, the bushy 'stache, the well-groomed hair with just a touch of devil-may-care wayward curls, the comfortable camel blazer, the enormous dog-food-bowl-sized ashtray, empty for now, but ready to be filled during a long evening in this dark corner of the bar.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

The Mets recently sent out a fan survey looking for feedback on the team's various uniforms. For much of their history, with slight variations, they have worn home pinstripes and road grays with the blue hat. That all changed a little over 10 years ago with the introduction of black. While Mets fans remain divided between those loyal to the simple orange-and-blue and those rocking the all-black, no one can argue that the current state of five different uniforms and three different hats is overblown.

Intriguingly the survey also solicited thoughts on potential new looks for the team. Here they are.

Hmmmm. Option B creates the same sherbet effect as the Phillies' home uni. Sherbet is to sorbet like grilled cheese is to panini.
Maybe if Patrick Ewing swung bats instead of awkwardly hoisting up 12-footers these sweat-guard jerseys would be necessary. Then again, these kind of unis are common in Japan and we all know Japan exists 12 years in the future so maybe this look is as inevitable as another east village ramen noodle bar. Or is it all about katsu now? Mochi-Mochi, foodie snobs!
Even dreamy David Wright would look ugly in these. Why, even macho Mark Sanchez would look ugly in these. Well, probably not, but still, these look like the cheap knockoffs available for purchase at the Moshell's on Fulton Street. Even Modell's wouldn't stoop this low.
Option B shows the Mets' current black jersey, while Option A offers a cleaner look sans piping.
Pumped! Either option is perfect for a road jersey. These bright blue babies would make our bumbling Mets stand out and look sharp even when they miss touching thoid base. Doesn't hoit that the look hearkens back to the golden days of Doc and Daryl. Hey, remember 1986? No? Fine then, carry on sexting, playing lacrosse, rocking skinny jeans and spreading the swine flu post-spring break you emo little rascals.

And props to Wally1912 over at the sportslogos forums for the above images.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to the Basics

Hidden in the Mets' seven game winning streak were fielding gaffes and baserunning lapses, and they finally reared their ugly heads in their series against the Braves. Between David Wright's poor throwing arm and refusal to charge balls and get played by bad hops and Jose Reyes' curious baserunning decisions -taking a massive risk going for a triple in the eighth inning of the second game, running on a ground ball to short and walking into a Larry Jones tag and the icing on the cake, cadillac-ing around the bases on a deep fly ball to left center that bounced off the top of the fence- there is a general sloppiness to the team that wasn't nearly as damaging when they could outslug opponents with Carlos Delgado in the lineup. Wright and Reyes are not the only culprits, but the highest profile ones: Luis Castillo also refuses to play ground balls and waits for them, and Daniel Murphy still plays left field on rollerskates. Manager Jerry Manuel and bench coach/infield instructor Sandy Alomar Sr. can run as many drills as they want, but perhaps new voices are needed to reach to the players, voices like Tom Emanski -winner of back-to-back-to-back AAU national championships- and Fred McGriff -"these are the instructional videos that GET RESULTS!"

More Fallen G's

Thought I'd stay with the fallen G theme this week. This here is Ralph Beard, a star 1940's hoopster for Kentucky who passed in November of 2007.

By all accounts Beard was a baller who should be remembered amongst the pioneer greats from the post-war hoops era. Unfortunately Beard was a grizzly bear who stayed on his hustle, getting caught up in the City College of New York point-shaving scandal that engulfed college hoops in the early 1950's. The Repercussions were extreme, to put it milder than Hunt's Ketchup.

Besides the many ballers like Beard who were blacklisted, powerhouse teams such as C.C.N.Y., N.Y.U. and L.I.U. gave up D-I hoops. The N.I.T. began to wane in dominance, and New York City in general lost its central status in college ball.

Beard obviously wasn't too happy with the outcome, giving this powerfully poetic quote to the Tampa Tribune in 1999, "“I loved this game. It isn’t like losing one of my kids. It isn’t like losing my wife, Bettye. It isn’t like going blind. But I’m telling you what — it will be with me until they hit me in the face with that first spade full of dirt — because basketball was my life.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Remembering Two Fallen G's.

Two baseball G's passed recently. Dom "The Little Professor" DiMaggio and Jack "Lucky" Lohrke.

DiMaggio, besides strongly resembling "Steve" from Sex and the City, is a genuine Bosawk legend who suffered from playing in the shadow of his Yankee brother. Matter of fact, one of the records he still holds-longest hitting streak on the Red Sox-came to an end at the hands of Mr. Coffee.

He didn't sound too bitter about it tho, here's the Little Pro telling it to the NY Times:

First of all, when I hit in 34 games in a row, I was only doing my job. I played every game pretty much as I played any other game. I got my fair share of walks during the streak — I don’t think I chased bad pitches. I was a line-drive hitter. My job was to get on base and let the sluggers like Ted Williams drive me home. I wasn’t even aware of my streak until it was at 22 or 23 games, and I didn’t make a big deal of it.

On the day it ended, Aug. 9, we were playing the Yankees at Fenway Park. Our rivalry with the Yankees was great — every bit as emotional as it is now. The atmosphere was very thick whether we played at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. That afternoon we were in third place, six games behind the first-place Yankees, but playing great. We were just entering the pennant race. These were big games.

But when you feel pressure, you do not perform. The first thing you’ve got to do is be completely relaxed. And that’s the way I was. On that day against the Yankees, I felt good. I hit one solid shot to the third baseman that was turned into an out. I got out another couple of times. I was 0 for 4 when I got to the plate in the eighth inning against Vic Raschi, who was a darn good pitcher.

I smacked a line drive right up the middle so hard that it passed Raschi’s ear! He ducked to get out of the way of it! As soon as I hit it, I said, “O.K., that’s 35.” But that ball wouldn’t drop. The ball refused to drop. Joe is standing out there in center field, and he didn’t have to move. He said it himself later — if he hadn’t caught the ball, it would have hit him right between the eyes. So there was no effort on his part. It wasn’t a great play by him, like they’re still saying today. I just hit the ball too damn hard!

But the streak was over, and I didn’t mind that much. (After all, we’d won the game, 6-3.) And hitting streaks didn’t matter to me, even when I hit in another 27 straight in 1951. It’s just a statistic. And the only statistic that really matters to me is hitting .300. I did it four times in my 10 full seasons in the major leagues, and finished with a .298 average lifetime. My only regret is not hitting .300.

It would have meant so much. Enos Slaughter hit exactly .300 in his career — and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Why? Did he hustle any more than I did? Did he have a better arm than I did? Did he run the bases any better than I did? Did he play defense as well as I did? Who knows? All I needed was 12 more hits — only about one per season — and I would have had a .300 average.

But that’s O.K. As I said, I was a leadoff man. I think one of the finest compliments paid to me was from my own teammate, Bobby Doerr. He said to me on more than one occasion, “Dommy, if you had been batting fifth or sixth in the lineup, I am positive you would drive in 100 runs a year.” That to me was the ultimate compliment. Just like the streak, I did what my job called for.

Jack "Lucky" Lohrke had a short career, mostly with the New York Giants. As for that nickname? "He didn't really like that nickname," his son said. "It reminded him of too many things."

What things? From his AP obit:

Mr. Lohrke served in the Army during World War II and fought in the D-day invasion at Normandy and later in the Battle of the Bulge. He recounted how four soldiers, two on each side of him, were killed in combat.

In 1945, Mr. Lohrke was leaving the service when he prepared to board a military transport for the trip home to California. Shortly before takeoff, he was bumped from the flight by a higher-ranking officer. The plane crashed, and all passengers were killed.

In 1946, Mr. Lohrke and his minor league teammates on the Spokane Indians boarded a bus for a ride across the state of Washington. During a lunch stop, Mr. Lohrke got word that he'd been promoted to Triple-A San Diego, took his gear, and hitchhiked home.

That night, the bus careened off a rain-slicked pass through the Cascades mountain range and plummeted into a valley, killing nine players. It remains the most deadly crash involving an American professional baseball team.

By the time he reached the majors, Mr. Lohrke was "Lucky."

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Amazin Mess Casting Call II

Via the Almighty Bizman, here are former KC Chiefs' WR Johnnie Morton as Johan Santana and late 1980's funnyman Mario Joyner as Carlos Delgado.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Casting Call

What if Hollywood, already inspired by the upcoming Moneyball adaptation to film, gets an itch for another baseball drama? What was more tumultuous than the 2008 Mets season that featured backstabbings, power struggles, midnight firings and a second straight choke job? Casting from the top:

Gregory Itzin as Fred Wilpon

Out-of-touch patriarch of the franchise already handing the reins to his son...

Steve Carell as Jeff Wilpon

and always behind Jeff's back, whispering into his ear...

Carlos Gomez (the actor) as Tony Bernazard

Robert Townsend as Willie Randolph

Billy Dee Williams as Jerry Manuel

Temuera Morrison as Carlos Beltran

Chris Pine (r) as David Wright

and on the other line with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on WFAN...

Zac Efron as Cole Hamels

Obviously, Omar Minaya is a glaring hole, as are the roles of Johan Santana, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, but that's what the experts are for, right? Get cracking on that screenplay!