Saturday, May 03, 2008

One liners and other brief questions

I guess that the following terms and names have new meaning...

  • Getting Rogered.
  • Jolly Roger.
  • Taking Clemens deep.
  • King Missile.
Anyone else hear Barry Bonds breathing a sigh of relief over the fact that the press isn't paying him any attention because of Clemens?

In Red Sox terms, Feet of Clay are not necessarily a bad thing any longer.

The turf at Fenway might be Bluegrass, but the future of right field definitely appears to be Moss.

If JD Drew is eventually cut (probably no time soon), what's the over/under on the time from the announcement to the first "D(r)ew dropped" headline?

I know it's early yet, but what does it say about major league baseball that the Sox could have a brutal five game slide, and still put together more wins than all but four teams?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Fall-out and other thoughts...

Some of the fall-out from the disintegration of Roger Clemens' reputation before our very eyes in the form of an instant message conversation with my wife this morning...

me: evidently a stripper from Detroit went on the radio yesterday claiming an affair with Clemens

Kelly: egad
8:17 AM me: yeah
8:18 AM with Clemens
how is it he isn't a syphilis ridden space case at this point?
Kelly: steroids kills stds?

I guess now we know why he didn't want to travel with the team between starts. Maybe no actual skeletons in his closet, but that's an awful lot of T&A in there.

Rolling stones gather no Moss...

But, evidently, really fast cars do.

Moss has announced plans to get into NASCAR as an owner.

I can't say that I have ever understood the attraction of car racing. The idea of watching people drive in circles for hours at a time just strikes me as the pinnacle of absurdity - only slightly higher on the mountain than golf about which Mark Twain famously said, "golf is a good walk spoiled."

However, if this is what Moss wants to do with his bonus money, then more power to him. If he moves forward with this, he joins the likes of Joe Gibbs (car), and Bill Parcells (horse), who are already involved in racing as a side vocation.

One final C-Note...

A happy birthday/anniversary shout out to our seventh inning stretch traditions...

It's not just the 100th anniversary of the Cubs last time winning the World Series, it is also the 100th anniversary of the writing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." At the time of the song's writing, neither the lyricist, nor the composer had been to a baseball game. It would be two decades before one of them finally made it to a game.

I won't spend a lot of words writing about this, as the link to the Wikipedia link above is quite thorough, but I will note that we seem to sing only the chorus during the seventh inning stretch. There are two versions I have included below.

1908 Version

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou1
Katie blew.
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said "No,
I'll tell you what you can do:"

1927 Version

Nelly Kelly loved baseball games,
Knew the players, knew all their names.
You could see her there ev'ry day,
Shout "Hurray"
When they'd play.
Her boyfriend by the name of Joe
Said, "To Coney Isle, dear, let's go",
Then Nelly started to fret and pout,
And to him, I heard her shout:


Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowds;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along,
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan,
She would root just like any man,
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along,
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Nelly Kelly knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

[repeat Chorus]

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

If I should fall from grace with God where no doctor can relieve me...

Professional athletics comes with many perks - fame...fortune...toadies to stroke the inflated ego. There are, however, other things that some with it - sycophants that do one no favors, increased scrutiny from being in the public eye, and a very high perch from which to fall.

With the increased media scrutiny and leagues becoming more and more image conscious, it has felt like a lot of people have fallen from grace lately. Some from greater heights than others.

Let's take a look at eleven of the biggest falls...

Roger Clemens -

Accused of...
Baseball cheat
Witness tampering
Multiple counts of philandering

Creating a new synonym for the term clemency - It started with the Mitchell Report tainting who some were calling the greatest pitcher of all-time (I won't even address the inaccuracy of the hyperbole involved there), which has snowballed. Due to the accusations of Celmens being a steroid cheat for approximately a decade of his career, The Rocket filed a defamation suit against his accuser. This was one of the first of many legal missteps which include a crash-and-burn-act in front of a Congressional committee (including potential witness tampering), and has culminated in the unearthing of a series of affairs with a country singer, a former bartender, the ex-wife of golfer John Daly (were they married at the time?) and possibly the (ex?)wife of a pro wrestler. As Mike Lupica noted, Rusty Hardin must be the Isiah Thomas of lawyers. A smart lawyer would advise his client to cut his losses and settle the defamation suit at this point, a suit based on the premise that his client is a good family man.

With a federal perjury investigation hanging over his head and a new mistress revealed daily, Clemens has gone from one of the most revered pitchers in the history of baseball - often talked about in the same breath as the likes of Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax - to being little more than a punchline.

Jose Canseco -

Copped to/nailed for...
Steroid use
Probation violation

Accused of...
Slander and libel

At one time one of the most feared power hitters in the sport (we'll be kind and not talk about his defense), Canseco crashed and burned due to steroid use some time ago. He was a punchline, until his book Juiced turned out to be a fairly accurate catalyst for the Mitchell Report. Unfortunately, his second book came out to allegations of a blackmail operation that was intended to raise money for a film project of his - you give me money, I say you didn't use.

As a key character witness, and the one of the few character witnesses Clemens has been able to produce, Canseco has once again managed to paint himself into the corner of sleazy opportunist with a series of claims that seem to be contradicted by other witnesses and, in some cases, hard evidence.

Michael Vick -

Copped to/nailed for...
Dog fighting
Cruelty to animals
Illegal gambling
Drug use
Transmitting an STD

Once the anointed savior of the Atlanta Falcons and highest paid player in the NFL, is now a jail-bird in a federal prison. After getting nailed to the wall for being the money behind a dog-fighting operation, Vick violated the terms of his house arrest when he was caught toking up a Bob Marley special. Since the criminal issues came to a resolution, Vick has continued to be plagued with legal issues as everyone from the Hawks to companies with which he had sponsorship deals have been trying to recoup their investment in him.

OJ Simpson -

Copped to/nailed for...
Wrongful death (civil)
Domestic violence
Unpaid income tax
Broadcast piracy
Contacting a co-defendant

Accused of...
Murder (criminal)
Gun charges
Conspiracy to commit crimes

Once one of the best running backs in the NFL, Simpson was able to parlay his fame on the football field into a respectable film career, appearing in close to 30 films over a 20-year span from 1974 to 1994. His post-football career included rolls in Roots and box-office hits like The Towering Inferno and the Naked Gun series.

The film career stopped abruptly when Simpson was put on trial for the murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend Ron Goldman. Acquitted despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, Simpson vowed he wouldn't rest until he brought his ex's real killer to justice. Despite the acquittal, Simpson was found responsible of the murder in civil court and ordered to pay damages to the families of the victims.

To date, his "search" has revealed no leads and he is now in court for violent criminal violations for the second time in little more than a decade.

Pete Rose -

Copped to/nailed for...
Gambling on baseball
Tax evasion

Charlie Hustle was the hardest working man in professional sports. A player with limited tools and talent, Rose put up Hall-of-Fame-worthy numbers during his career - retiring the all-time hits leader. He was used, for a period, as an example of how to play the game by every little league coach as to how kids should play the game.

Rose was bounced from baseball for violating the game's cardinal rule. Nailed for gambling, and on charges of tax evasion, Rose has become a polarizing figure among sports writers debating his place in the canton of ball-players.

Maurice Clarrett -

Copped to/nailed for...
Gun charges
Armed robbery
Intimidating a witness
General stupidity

Sure, Clarrett never made it to the pinnacle of professional sports, but he was expected to be a high draft pick. Clarrett screwed the pooch in college, violating any number of NCAA rules in accepting money, and cars from Ohio State boosters, not to mention academic violations.

In danger of being kicked out of school, and already suspended by the NCAA from play, Clarrett unsuccessfully sued the NFL for entry into the draft. It went downhill from there for him.

Barry Bonds -

Accused of...
Steroid/HGH use
Tax evasion

Once a five-tool player with Hall-of-Fame written all over him, Bonds wanted more, and apparently turned to steroid and HGH use to get it. He went from a svelte, fast player who could play defense to a lumbering muscle-bound freak who could hit the ball a ton, but was a defensive liability prone to injury.

Now Bonds appears to be baseball kryptonite and facing a potential trial on federal charges of perjury. On the plus side, no one ever has accused Bonds of being a nice guy or sterling family man. His fall from grace appears to be almost totally tied into the professional.

Marion Jones -

Copped to/nailed for...
HGH use
Check fraud

The one-time Olympic competitor, and occasional magazine cover-girl saw everything come crashing down with the BALCO investigation as well as a separate investigation into a check fraud scheme. Now serving time on federal perjury charges, Jones' issues brought not only herself down, but her relay teammates who were stripped of their Olympic gold due to her cheating.

Mike Tyson -

Copped to/nailed for...

Iron Mike was the most dominant force in boxing from the '80's into the '90's. Granted, it's not like there was a whole lot of competition in the heavy weight division during that stretch, but really, no one else came close.

Tyson ended up in jail in the early 1990's for raping a beauty queen, and has since squandered his fortune, and been mocked for using Evander Hollyfield as a chew toy during a late-career boxing match.

Isiah Thomas -

Copped to/nailed for...
Sexual harassment
Destruction of a storied franchise

Accused of...

Thomas' tenure as the general manager and coach of the New York Knicks was an unmitigated disaster. During his time running the show at Madison Square Garden, Thomas has pretty effectively wiped his Hall-of-Fame playing career from the public's minds with his ineptitude, his failure to defend himself against allegations of sexual harassment, and the allegations of racism that surfaced as a result of the case against him.

Along the way Thomas undermined the authority of a Hall-of-Fame coach, destroyed his own credibility, the credibility of the Knicks owner, and put together one of the most overpaid and underachieving teams in the history of professional sports. He has, since, been effectively neutered by the team's new president. His nickname should be changed from Zeke to Gelding.

Mark McGwire -

Accused of...
Steroid use

Big Mac is the only guy on the list whose fall had virtually no impact on his private life. McGwire was a likely lock for the Hall-of-Fame, despite borderline numbers, when the steroid hearings on Capitol Hill started.

His Hall candidacy was mostly predicated on his power numbers. His hall votes dried up when he would not address accusations of using in order to pad his power numbers. To date, McGwire will not address questions regarding his use of supplements during his playing days, and does his best to stay out of the spotlight.


Dishonorable mention: Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Steve Howe, Rafael Palmeiro, Ryan Leaf, Adam "Pacman" Jones, Chris Henry, and a bevy of other idiots.

Almost all of those mentioned above in some way or another, brought the fall on themselves - whether through questionable choices, stupid associations, or what have you - the only place these people can realistically lay blame is at their own front door.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Catching up with a busy weekend

But first, more pics of Isiah Thomas in his new roll as Milton Waddams for the Knicks...

Stupid is as stupid does...

So, the Rocket is back in the news, this time for an alleged 10-year extramarital affair that started when he was 28 and the other woman was 15. Roger Clemens' attorney released a statement, not denying a relationship with the now washed up 32-year old country singer, but denying that the relationship was of a sexual nature.

Clemens might be telling the truth here, however, there are a number of things that just don't pass the smell test here.

I want to address some of those things.

First - I spent five years as a teacher at the high school level, and in the 22 years I have spent as a martial arts instructor, I have been friendly with a number of teenagers. I have mentored several of them, but have spent no time with any of them outside of a classroom setting (except in the very rare case in which I am friends with the child's parents - which has always been the case before I had the child as a student). I would not call any of them a sustained relationship over a ten year period, no matter what my age.

Second - What ended the "platonic" relationship after ten years? Sure, I have friends, going back to elementary school, whom I don't talk to or see as often as I once did. But I would not describe those relationships as ended at the time we stopped talking as often.

Some of those friends I talk to once a year, sometimes less, and see those people even less frequently, but they're still people I consider to have a relationship with. The relationship hasn't ended. Just changed.

As for women with which I had physical or romantic relationships - yeah, most of those had definitive endings complete with hostilities and cessation of interaction. Some I can pinpoint the dates on, if I really went back to think about it. None of those were platonic.

What I have to ask at this point, would any of this have hit had it not been for The Mitchell Report?

Two by Two

The Celtics stomped on the Atlanta Hawks in the first two games of the playoffs, winning by an average of 21 points in those two games. The Hawks have been slightly better than the Celtics for the last two in Atlanta, averaging a seven point margin in their wins.

I mention this for the following - the series returns to Boston for game five.

A basic fact about the two teams -

Through the season and including the playoffs, the Celtics are 37-6 at home and 31-12 away. Atlanta, is a respectable 27-16 at home. In 43 road games the Hawks have only won 12 - or to put it another way; Atlanta has won a little better than one in every four road games while the Celtics have lost a little less than once in every six games at the Garden.

Unless the Hawks can rise to the occasion and steal one in Boston, the best Atlanta will do is make a respectable showing by forcing the series to seven games. I just have a hard time seeing the Hawks taking one on the road.

Panic attack

The Sox have lost five in a row to slip into second place, mere percentage points behind the Rays and Orioles. The skid coincides with a flu that has run through the Sox clubhouse, forcing the team to start Jon Lester on three days rest (for everyone knocking him - yes it wasn't a great start, but he still gave the team an opportunity to win, giving up four earned in five innings - the same number of runs the team put up over the same number of innings). The bullpen screwed the pooch, and the offense went away.

A pretty good description of what has happened with the team during the skid.

In the next game, rookie Justin Masterson spun a six inning gem, giving up one run. The offense was decent, scoring five runs over the course of the game, but the bullpen gave up six over the final three innings.

Even Tim Wakefield qualified for a quality start, making it through six innings and giving up only three earned runs against the Rays, Clay Buchholz gave up two runs in eight, and Beckett only one earned in seven. Even when the Sox put runs on the board, the hitting failed in the clutch.

All that noted, it's way too early to panic. Sure, JD Drew has reverted to 2007 Drew, but he's not the only one to have disappeared at the plate. For the most part, David Ortiz hasn't shown up yet, and only Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia got hits in the Sunday night game that made the Rays' James Shields look like the second coming of Nolan Ryan. The night before only Drew, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, and Jacoby Ellsbury hit the ball. This won't last.

It's the end of April. It is way too early to panic.